Janiece Jaffe & Monika Herzig – Both Sides of Joni


 The Both Sides of Joni Project was the product of a period of soul searching during the Covid Summer of 2020.  Vocalist Janiece Jaffe started listening closely to Joni Mitchell’s music and lyrics with her jazz vocalist ears and found truth and wisdom that inspired her and that she wanted to share with the world to inspire others. She studied the words more deeply and got the urge to re-imagine them in jazz arrangements.  “I could almost ‘Hear’ them!” Together with friend and collaborator Monika Herzig, they spent many summer days of 2020 in the barn with keyboard and masks working out arrangements and rediscovering Joni’s music.  In March 2021, the arrangements were premiered at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis to most enthusiastic response. Many audience members came together for the first time in over a year and the messages of overcoming challenges, endurance, rebellion, love, and regret rang deep. They decided to record the musicwith a group of outstanding musicians and with community support from a successful Kickstarter Campaign. Just days after the completion of the Master Recording, Janiece left this world unexpectedly after heart surgery. T

From the Liner Notes:

This album is, first and foremost, about relationships: between Janiece and Monika; between the stretch of time that gave rise to Joni’s songs and the ones we’re living through now; and, most of all, between Janiece and these lyrics. She sings them in a pure and transparent voice, sometimes overdubbing the harmonies she once only imagined, and she moves through a variety of moods: reflective on “Both Sides Now”; startlingly direct on “Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow”; with swinging aplomb on “My Old Man”; longingly, on “River,” her yearning teased out by Dutton’s violin; and, in the middle of “The Hissing of Summer Lawns,” seizing upon the word “darkness,” and then sings wordlessly, in the improvisational style she studied with Bobby McFerrin and Rhiannon, a master teacher, and leading the ensemble into freer terrain. She’s “hanging out with the jazzers,” just like she used to, just like Joni so famously and brilliantly did. And she’s revealing both sides of herself—the girl who heard Joni’s songs and wanted to make them her own, and the woman who now leans on them to, like the rest of us, try to make sense of it all.  

—Larry Blumenfeld 

Comments are closed.