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A new note for Joni Mitchell Print-ready version

by Denise Kusel
Long Beach Independent
August 15, 1974

Joni Mitchell's voice is a quality instrument.

Borrowing a phrase from a mythical character in her song "Bar and Grill," [sic] Joni is also a deluxe chick.

As a singer, she's weathered many changes.

Tuesday night, she weathered a chilling breeze during the first performance of a five-day stand at the Universal Amphitheater.

Gone was the painted look - the harsh smokey look she surrounded herself with in concerts earlier this year.

Instead she returned a mixture of the gentle poetess of the days of "Both Sides Now" and a much wiser woman who has "grown out of songs like old dresses."

She went about doing her songs, beginning with "A Free Man in Paris." [sic] She has a remarkable ability to display a warm and simple mood while fusing together intricate patterns of phrases into contempo rhythms and lyrical styles.

Sharing the bill with Tom Scott's L.A. Express, Joni has found what we have once before called a skillful blending of folk and contemporary music.

While watching her in the wings - waiting for Tom Scott to finish his opening section of the set - she smoked cigarette after cigarette and chattered nervously.

Once on stage, she had mastered her nerves. The cigarettes, however, had taken their toll on her voice. It was as smooth as gravel.

At times she would lose control in the higher registers, and the voice would master the woman and float wildly into the night.

Her vocal duets with Tom Scott's flute were still masterful.

With Scott on the melodica (he plays a variety of instruments from C melody sax to flute and recorder), she launched into "You Turn Me On the Radio." [sic]

She cradle-rocked her guitar in her arms, swayed with the wind and breezed easily over sharps and flats.

Joni Mitchell is an artist. She paints with fantastic clarity, using lyrics as a medium gel to mingle with the expressive arrangements of Scott's L.A. Express.

The group, which consists of Scott on reeds, Max Bennett on bass, John Guerin on drums, Robin [sic] Ford on guitar, and Larry Nash on piano was overpowering at times.

The absence of Roger Kellaway on keyboards was sorely felt. He had a large part in keeping the group mellow.

Too many times Tuesday night, I felt the L.A. Express was in direct competition with Joni Mitchell, instead of effecting a pleasurable quality on her music.

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