vocals, piano and electric piano - Ian Shaw
piano - Janette Mason (tracks 1, 2, 5 & 9)
piano - Tim Lapthorn (tracks 3, 4, 8, 10 & 13)
bass - Simon Little
drums - Mark Fletcher
percussion - Miles Bould
keyboards - Richard Cottle
trumpet - Guy Barker
tenor sax - Nigel Hitchcock
guitar - David Preston (tracks 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 & 10)
guitar - Jim Mullen (tracks 12 & 13)
guest vocal - Lea De Laria (track 5)
guest vocal - Claire Martin (track 12)
with The Tapestry Strings
Ian Shaw writes
sarah vaughan, t-rex, supertramp, miles davis, sinatra and david bowie. my teenage record collection was a roll-call of every musical sensation needed to pave the way for my own precocious foray into making music.
i was fascinated by the sounds and the story worlds of “bewitched”, “willow weep for me” and “life on mars”. miniatures, myths, frozen little moods pressed onto pungent glossy discs. mysterious yet familiar, orchestrations forged on distant shores, ever evolving yet never changing. iconic artwork, cherished gatefold sleeves, lyric sheets, stickers, 45 and 33rpm, a-sides, b-sides, ep’s, lp’s, best of’s, free posters, calendars. each album had its own smell, its own texture. the design of each cover reflected the music inside.
i found a record called “blue” by joni mitchell in my little town library on the way home from school on the last day of my sixth-form autumn term. i was sixteen. you could take out three records at a time. i don’t remember the other two.
walking home through the filthy melting snow, i checked the cover. david bowie’s sister. sharp cheekbones bathed in grainy dark blue shadows. a still from a gig perhaps. the lyrics were printed over a gatefold centre: “the bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide”, “i made my baby cry”, “a foggy lullaby”, “dark cafes”, “needles, guns and grass”. rock and roll words mixed into images so specific, so confessional, so domestic as to be straight from a diary kept in a drawer… somewhere in america. i couldn’t imagine how joni mitchell would sound and, to this day, i still don’t fully understand the unfathomable beauty of her recordings. i felt i was, at sixteen, an honorary member of a secret club. i quickly found her other records.
the immaculate marriage of words and music in joni’s work has always fascinated and puzzled me. the constant, aching search for happiness combined with the concerns we all have for the demise of everything we treasure. on “miles of aisles“, her first live set, joni describes a song as “a portrait of disappointment”. thousands of great american songs before her have touched on personal disappointments, usually related to love. joni would later record an entire album charting the course of a love affair
the songs i’ve chosen for this session are, without doubt, beautifully composed popular song forms. the imagery is personal yet universal, and i hope that by re-arranging and scoring them for what is essentially an enduring jazz format - piano, bass and drums – i haven’t taken away from their original compositional greatness. i sensed that joni’s more diary-based works like “hejira”, and her heartfelt, magical collusion with the legendary charlie mingus on “mingus” wouldn’t suit re-invention of any kind.
occasionally joni mitchell writes what seems to be the perfect song for every singer. “stay in touch” (from “taming the tiger”) is one. “river” (“blue”) is another. i’ve recorded both. they shake my bones when i sing them.
the emotions themselves - audibly in the music like creatures trapped in amber (jim irwin)
to work with the extraordinary ears of the producer richard cottle, a crew of young joni-loving jazz players was assembled. tim lapthorn, one of the most emotional piano players in europe, whose album “natural language” is a thing of great beauty. simon little, a young bass player (divine comedy, clare teal) whose enthusiasm for joni matches my own. mark fletcher, a hugely creative drummer who has played with james moody, mark murphy, ronnie scott, in cahoots, and has been in my trio for sixteen years. our invited guests on the album are david preston, a passionate young guitarist still at college, percussionist miles bould, saxophonist nigel hitchcock and the legendary jim mullen (“both sides now” and “night ride home”). ”). the award-winning guy barker makes a special guest appearance on “harlem in havana”, “talk to me” and “moon at the window”.
claire martin and i have been performing together for over ten years. she recorded “be cool” on her debut album “the waiting game” in 1991 and sings “night ride home” with me here. for “harlem in havana”, i couldn’t think of a better scat singer than lea de laria.
the arrangements on this record are my own, with the exception of “jericho”, “love or money” and “harlem in havana” which were crafted by one of our most inventive composers, janette mason. she plays piano on these three tracks.
this album is dedicated to the memory of my father, vic bagshaw (1934-2004), whose music never leaves me.
Recorded at The Bunker Studios, London on 23-30 November, 2005
Recording and Mix Engineer - John Gallen
Mixed at Denham Studios, London
Mixed by Richard Cottle and John Gallen
Assistant Mix Engineer - Joseph Cottle
SA-CD mixing and mastering by Ben Turner & Philip Hobbs
Mastered at Finesplice, UK
Photography and design - John Haxby