Joni Mitchell’s Hejira and Mingus Album Tribute From Nu Civilisation Orchestra Featuring The Vocals Of Eska

Tomorrow’s Warriors Presents Nu Civilisation Orchestra Featuring Eska. Joni Mitchell’s Hejira And Mingus Tour Live At The Lighthouse Poole Review…

Talk about setting yourself a challenge of the highest order. There’s certain things in life that are fundamentally impossible to even fathom. The vastness of space, the meaning of life, or how could the idea arise to emulate Joni Mitchell in a tribute performance?

Thing is, it’s not just Joni’s voice and vocal style to contend with, it’s how she writes. She paints a picture. Words twisting, winding and flowing down avenues. Personal journeys of heartbreak and relationships. Excursions, stories and drama. Poetic ramblings that whisk you through her travels. A colourful palette of road trodden narrative. It would be impossible to try? Right?

In steps Eska Mtungwazi.

Immediately, you know there’s no need to copy. This lady has her own special style. Joni pops out of course. It’s all in the passion. If you going to sing Joni’s songs, then her writing style will encapsulate her mannerisms. This is a beautiful Joni and Eska hybrid of sound. Totally original. Eska’s on stage presence and vocal range burst out. Powerful mostly, at times whispering, whistling. There’s lullabies and scatting in a warm Bobby McFerrin style. Polyphonic harmonies that compliment the orchestra. She also had fun with a MPC sample unit. Recreating sounds that reminded me of Eddie Harris electric saxophone noises. All this, and more, made the genius of Eska’s renditions so creatively unique.

Gilles Peterson on her debut album ESKA (2015) “One of the most important singers right now”

This was not just a tribute to Joni but also to jazz legend Charles Mingus. The performance plays the music from two of Joni’s albums. The 1976 folk rock sounds of Hejira and the more jazz influenced 1979 collaboration with the Charles Mingus, entitled, simply, Mingus. Unfortunately that would be one of his last recordings before he died in the same year.

This is where the foundation of the Nu Civilisation Orchestra comes in. Led by conductor Peter Edwards who had a friendly, elegant manner that instantly warmed the audience to his musicians. A wonderfully talented group which danced between differing tempos of lush soundscapes and big band jazz funk. Three backing singers surrounded Eska’s vocals adding lullabies and harmonies. A quartet of strings and five piece horn section giving depth. The bassist encaptured the original Mingus album’s Jaco Pastorius. The guitarist effortlessly switched from his strings to use his instrument for percussion. The young lady of keyboards had big Herbie Hancock boots to fill. She did of course. Which leaves the beats, drums and percussion. Centre stage, the drummer kept the groove going. Last of all, the percussionist, evoked my ancient wolf bloodline “The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey” as he worked all manner of percussive instruments. You could feel the legend Emil Richards there, too.

Stand out songs – it was all fantastic – but if I had to pick one that I adored hearing live, “Coyote.” That lyric, within that song, A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway, resonates with me.

Where the Lighthouse, might not of been completely sold out, it did produce a more intimate gathering of musical souls. Their passion and love filled any empty seats with cheers and admiration.

So was it an impossible task? Of course not. Eska and Nu Civilisation Orchestra completely smashed it. It was an incredible night.

All the best

Mikey Wolf

8 thoughts on “Joni Mitchell’s Hejira and Mingus Album Tribute From Nu Civilisation Orchestra Featuring The Vocals Of Eska

  1. Hey, what’s this…Wolfmans Cult Music Club? I come here expecting a movie review, and instead I get a very well-done and insightful look at a jazz concert in the UK!

    A very cool post, Mikey, and it sounds like you had a lot of fun there. I’ve seen that album by Joni Mitchell but never heard it, and I’ve heard of Charles Mingus, but have never listened to his music. Is it safe to say you have both of those LPs in your collection? Maybe it’s time for me to bounce over to YouTube and give both of them a listen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yes it’s quite different to “what time does your finger need to be on the pause button” kinda post isn’t it. I’ve been toying with the idea of merging an old music blog I used to do many years back. It’s a mess tbh. Took one look and backed away. I know I’ll end pushing the wrong button and it all ending in tears. Accidentally wipe the whole film blog! I backed away. Will revisit the idea over xmas. But for now, it was easiest to place here. I’ve hit soundtracks before so it might just fit in.

      It also gave me the buzz to pop on back. Been so long you get rusty and then kept putting it off. Hoping to get back in the groove and get posting again. There’s some drafts to look at…

      Thank you Todd. I actually don’t have those two albums, yet I knew a few of the tracks. Esp fond of the “Coyete” and “Black Crow” tracks. . I do have four Joni album’s on the shelve though. Court and Spark (1974) Blue (1971) The Hissing Of Summer Lawns (1975) and Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (1977).

      My two all time favorites of Joni Mitchell’s are…

      Help Me

      Edith and The Kingpin


  2. Sounds a real fab night out, Mikey.

    Don’t know if you remember me or not, but it’s Maddy here. I used to blog here a couple of years back until I became poorly. Just set up a new blog and slowly starting to get back into it. Hope all good with you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Maddy. Yes of course I remember you. One of the ultimate classic film reviewers. And we started about the same time. So great to see you back and even better to hear you are feeling stronger to get back writing articles again. I will pop on over soon to see but at the moment I’m just trying to figure out how I ever found time to post anything!! Finding my footings so to to speak.
      Hope you managed to save all your old content but most of all I hope you enjoy being back with this great hobby.
      All the best

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So good to “see” you again, Mikey!
    Your descriptions above are so well done you’ve even excited me, a non-music person, more or less, lol. At least mixed in with big question marks (Emile Richards, Peter Edwards) are those I recognize, Joni included. Oh, boy, I love Help Me, too !!!
    I’ve said this before, but I have friends who would rather be blind than deaf, ’cause they love music so much. But you’d have a BIG issue, wouldn’t you, due to your love of music AND movies.
    Have a good break, maybe ease your way back in….? It’s so hard, isn’t it? There’s just not enough time in the day.
    But we’re all waiting for your return! (no pressure, lol).
    Hope you and yours are doing well in all other aspects, and happy holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you Stacey for nice words.
      Waving back at you.
      “Help Me” is one of those desert island discs I’d say.
      Plus if you stuck on a desert island “Help Me” would be most appropriate haha
      Starting to shake the rust off. Just got back into it. Really enjoyed the new film one.
      What with the festive break coming soon, I do hope to get a routine set.

      Oh goodness yes the sound and sight dilema! Would have to lose the hearing. Turn it up and feel the basslines.
      Not so happy neighbours though…

      I have no idea how I found the time before. Really! Two Januaries with 31 posts. Seriuosly WTF. I must of been fired up on a cocktail of amphetamines and meth!!!

      We all good thank you. Can’t wait to have the kids back from UNi for xmas.
      Hope you and yours are well too and you had a great Thanks Giving.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 31 posts in January? Yeah, what W T F F? (translation: what the effity eff?!) lol
    Aw, have a wonderful reunion with the kids! 🙂 🙂 🙂


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