Joni Mitchell reached her commercial high point with Court and Spark, a remarkably deft fusion of folk, pop, and jazz which stands as her best-selling work to date. While as unified and insightful as Blue, the album – a concept record exploring the roles of honesty and trust in relationships, romantic and otherwise – moves away from confessional songwriting into evocative character studies: the hit "Free Man in Paris," written about David Geffen, is a not-so-subtle dig at the machinations of the music industry, while "Raised on Robbery" offers an acutely funny look at the predatory environment of the singles bar scene. Much of Court and Spark is devoted to wary love songs: both the title cut and "Help Me," the record's most successful single, carefully measure the risks of romance, while "People's Parties" and "The Same Situation" are fraught with worry and self-doubt (standing in direct opposition to the music, which is smart, smooth, and assured from the first note to the last).
Midwinter Graces is the 11th studio album by singer-songwriter Tori Amos. Released on November 10, 2009, through Universal Republic Records, it is the first seasonal album by Amos, and is also notable for marking a return for the artist to a more classical, stripped-down, baroque sound with various synths, string-instruments, the harpsichord and Amos' own signature Bosendorfer piano at center stage, once more. The album, like previous releases from Amos, is available in a single form CD or a Deluxe edition which includes 3 bonus tracks, a 20-page photo book, and a DVD containing an interview with the artist.
Bassist Avishai Cohen, best known at this point for his work with Chick Corea, on his own projects mixes together adventurous jazz with influences from world music, original folk melodies, and his own creativity. He composed 12 selections on his second CD, including tributes to Horace Silver and Chick Corea (which do not really sound that close to either of those pianist/composer's styles). The music is consistently unpredictable, with Cohen being joined by pianist Jason Lindner, drummer Jeff Ballard, Jimmy Greene on reeds, trombonist Steve Davis, guitarist Amos Hoffman, a string quartet, and up to five singers (who are mostly used in the background). An intriguing set by an up-and-coming composer who is also a very fluent bassist.