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River: The Joni Letters

River: The Joni Letters
Herbie hancock River the joni letters front cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 25, 2007 (2007-09-25)
ProducerHerbie Hancock, Larry Klein
Herbie Hancock chronology
River: The Joni Letters
The Imagine Project
Professional ratings
Review scores
About.com4.5/5 stars[1]
All About Jazz(favorable)[2]
AllMusic4/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau(2-star Honorable Mention)(2-star Honorable Mention)[4]
Daily News(favorable)[5]
The Guardian3/5 stars[6]
New York(favorable)[7]
The New York Times(favorable)[8]
The New Yorker(favorable)[9]
Time Out4/6 stars[10]

River: The Joni Letters is an album by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock that was released by Verve in 2007. It is a tribute album of cover songs written by Joni Mitchell. River was only the second jazz album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.


Hancock is a longtime friend of Mitchell's, and both he and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who plays throughout the album, had previously collaborated with Mitchell on her 1979 album Mingus, and both continued to work with her on occasion ever since.[11]

Guest vocalists on River include Leonard Cohen, Tina Turner, Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza and Mitchell herself.[11]

The album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2008. It peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 after enjoying a huge post-Grammy sales boost, at #61 in Switzerland, #70 in France and #83 in the Netherlands.


On February 10, 2008, the album won the Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Jazz Album at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.[12] Hancock was competing with Kanye West, Foo Fighters, Amy Winehouse, and Vince Gill for the Album of the Year award.[13] River was the second jazz album to win Album of the Year in the award's history. The first was Getz/Gilberto by Stan Getz and João Gilberto in 1965.[14] The track "Both Sides Now" was also nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental.[15]

Track listing

All songs were written by Joni Mitchell, except where noted.

  1. "Court and Spark" (featuring Norah Jones) – 7:35
  2. "Edith and the Kingpin" (featuring Tina Turner) – 6:32
  3. "Both Sides, Now" – 7:38
  4. "River" (featuring Corinne Bailey Rae) – 5:25
  5. "Sweet Bird" – 8:15
  6. "Tea Leaf Prophecy" (featuring Joni Mitchell) (Joni Mitchell, Larry Klein) – 6:34
  7. "Solitude" (Eddie DeLange, Duke Ellington, Irving Mills) – 5:42
  8. "Amelia" (featuring Luciana Souza) – 7:26
  9. "Nefertiti" (Wayne Shorter) – 7:30
  10. "The Jungle Line" (featuring Leonard Cohen) – 5:00

Bonus tracks

The exclusive version of the album includes two bonus tracks:

  1. "A Case of You" – 7:36
  2. "All I Want" (with Sonya Kitchell) – 4:15

The iTunes Store digital version includes two bonus tracks:

  1. "Harlem in Havana"
  2. "I Had a King"

All four bonus tracks were released on the 10th anniversary reissue of the album in 2017.[16]



  1. ^ " review". Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  2. ^ "All About Jazz review".
  3. ^ Jurek, Thom. "River: The Joni Letters". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Robert Christgau review".
  5. ^ Farber, Jim (30 September 2007). "Herbie Hancock writes 'Letters' to Joni Mitchell - NY Daily News". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  6. ^ Walters, John L. (4 October 2007). "CD: Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  7. ^ Johnson, Martin (24 August 2007). "Herbie Digs Joni". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  8. ^ Chinen, Nate (9 September 2007). "A Pianist's Love Note to a Noteworthy Voice". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  9. ^ Futterman, Steve (10 September 2007). "Missive to Mitchell". The New Yorker. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Herbie Hancock interview". Time Out London. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  11. ^ a b "News". 2007-08-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
  12. ^ Cohen, Sandy (2008-02-11). "Hancock Steals Grammy Album of Year". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  13. ^ Leopold, Todd (2008-02-04). "Herbie Hancock rides on the 'River'". CNN. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  14. ^ Moon, Tom (11 February 2008). "On 'River,' Hancock Skates Away with Grammy". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  15. ^ Jones, Steve (5 February 2008). "Hancock bridged jazz, pop on 'River'". USA Today. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters, 10th Anniversary Reissue Review". 2018-01-24. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  17. ^ []

External links