The first of two shows starring jazz vocalists Jess Abrams and Claire Daly kicked off tonight at The Jazz Bar. This reconstruction of Joni Mitchell’s work was not trying to be a tribute according to the duo who added their own nuance to Mitchell’s tunes. The passion-filled show was a bit rough around the edges but in a lovable way.
The pair seemed slightly nervous during their opening number “Blue” but gained confidence as they moved into more upbeat numbers. It was a nice touch that they chose songs which reflected their personalities as well as their voices such as Abrams singing the soft “River” and Daly singing the edgier “Harlem in Havana “. The variation between the duo’s voices meant they could sing a wider variety of Mitchell’s songs making the show more textured overall. However, it also meant that their singing did not always meet harmoniously during the duets.
This was primarily a jazz reconstruction of Mitchell’s work that left behind her folk sound. During certain songs such as “Both Sides Now” and “Big Yellow Taxi” I expected one of them to whip out an acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, these songs were let feeling a tad empty without the sound of a guitar. However, the pianist and bassist did a fabulous job of backing the duo, the pianist especially was excellent and had several improv jazz moments that were very impressive.
I’m sure the duo will deliver an equally enjoyable show tomorrow night having gained the confidence of their ovation tonight. The sold-out tickets prove that there’s still a demand for Joni Mitchell’s music as she approaches her 80th birthday and I hope this show gets the chance to continue celebrating Mitchell’s incredible work.
Reviewer: Amy Rose Holstead
Reviewed: 14th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: