About three years ago at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, I was standing in the back of a concert in studio B at CBC. Joani was singing a ballad to an audience of approximately three hundred people. She had the room in the palm of her hand and I was starting to get all choked up. I looked around the room and saw that I wasn't alone. There were a lot of people trying to pretend they weren't wiping away tears. Over the years, I've seen Joani do this many times. The first time was decades ago at the El Mocambo nightclub in Burnaby and I think she was only sixteen then.
I've had the honour and privilege of witnessing and playing with some wonderful artists who can do this, who can connect to something deep inside themselves and touch something deep inside us. But still and all, they are relatively rare. To be able to do this an artist has to, as well as have the skill of their craft and of their art, go deep inside themselves to go beyond style, tradition, politics and personality, plus find a connection to their own essence. Then they need the willingness to be vulnerable enough to open up and connect with the people they are playing with and for.
For me, Joani has always been a benchmark of this kind of intimacy. Every time I play with her she completely connects and any move I make moves her. When she performs for an audience, she takes them to someplace new and magical. Working on this project has been a great joy for me, especially the writing sessions with Joani and Miles. Things just seemed to fall into place naturally and the results are open and sincere.
The beautiful original music by Sharon Minemoto, Ross Taggart and Jimm Taylor was a delight to play and I think show many different sides to Joani's “Own Voice”. Her original lyrics show the same intimacy as her performances. The three non-originals take us in different soul-stirring directions again. The recording sessions with all these beautiful players were so inspiring. Every cut is first or second take. For this reason, I think the music has a fresh, raw, and honest quality that I love.
Every time I listen to these takes of Joani, Miles, Ross, Brad, Buff, Bernie and Doug, it makes me laugh and cry. I think this is a generous offering from a beautiful and continually developing, but maturing artist of great depth and breadth. I hope there is much more to come from Joani, my longtime friend, because I know she certainly has a lot more to say