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Ghostlight Records launched a special label imprint, Ghostlight Deluxe with the release from celebrated actress and singer Jessica Molaskey, Portraits of Joni. Ghostlight Deluxe was curated by John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey. Featuring Molaskey's distinctly innovative interpretations, this album mixes elements of jazz, pop, folk and Americana into a uniquely powerful and poignant celebration of the iconic songwriter, Joni Mitchell. Portraits of Joni is produced by Jessica Molaskey, with John Pizzarelli serving as co-producer and Rob and Marcie Orley as executive producers. Album guest stars include Jazz luminaries Larry Goldings, Randy Brecker, Harry Allen and John Pizzarelli.
"Our mission at Ghostlight Deluxe," explains Jessica, "is to give theater artists an opportunity and a home to make solo recordings that are singular to their unique talents. Whether it be jazz, pop or the Great American Songbook, we are committed to making albums with the highest quality arrangements and musicianship that integrate all these styles. It is the challenge of Broadway actors to be chameleons, to step into a character and become someone other than themselves. What happens when a Broadway singer decides to step out of costume? What happens when they decide to expose their authentic self through song? Ghostlight Deluxe will produce recordings that don't necessarily feel the need to reach to the back of the balcony, but can effortlessly reach our hearts."
Kurt Deutsch, Ghostlight's founder and president, adds "John and Jessica have been my friends for 20 years. Their technical artistry, stylish interpretations and pure love of music are unparalleled. To collaborate with them on Ghostlight Deluxe is an honor for me and will be a joy for all to hear." Reflecting on Portraits of Joni, Jessica says, "Joni Mitchell writes songs like a painter. One brush stroke here, another stroke there and you have a portrait of a fully realized soul. I continue to be amazed by how she can create a whole person with her words and music." Album highlights include contemplative takes on many of Mitchell's most popular composition such as "A Case of You," "Chelsea Morning" and the iconic "Both Sides Now," in addition to sly jazz-laced versions of "Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" and "Raised on Robbery."
When Portraits of Joni debuted as part of Lincoln Center's "American Songbook" series at The Allen Room, Molaskey was praised by Stephen Holden in the New York Times for her "uncompromising psychological realism along with an element of surprise that few singers bring to their material. In her voice, joy and pain are so intertwined that they're almost the same thing." Will Friedwald of The Wall Street Journal raved "Joni Mitchell would have to look hard to find a better interpreter and champion than Jessica Molaskey, a highly astute singer and interpreter who's proven her worth repeatedly in the fields of Broadway, cabaret, and jazz." In the Village Voice, David Finkle said "If Joni Mitchell isn't singing her own songs, it's hard to imagine anyone singing them better than Molaskey, a singer whose smoky voice carries the intellect and emotion necessary to capture Mitchell's often chilly immediacy."
Her husband John Pizzarelli, who will release his own album Sinatra & Jobim @ 50 the same day, is featured in a special combination of Mitchell's eternal "The Circle Game" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's ‘Waters of March." According to the New York Times, the songs are "transformed a merry-go-round contemplation of the life cycle into an exalted hymn to the natural world." The classic "Little Green" is a vocal duet with their daughter Madeleine Pizzarelli. "All I Want " is presented as a tour-de-force piano solo by Larry Goldings, merged with Jessica's haunting vocal on "Blue."
"Joni's self portraits are beautiful and fragile and often filled with conflict and joy," continues Jessica. "Like the young Joni in ‘In France They Kiss on Main Street,' she experienced her coming of age ‘under neon signs' in a pinball arcade, while her mother was ‘fading in a suburban room' or the overwhelmed Joni in ‘A Case of You,' wallowing at the bar and drawing his face "on the back of a cartoon coaster in the blue TV screen light. These portraits are now timeless treasures of a new generations' Great American Songbook. They have been indelibly etched in my heart and soul forever."
View the Portraits of Joni album booklet.
- Track Listing
1. Help Me
2. Dreamland / Carey
3. A Case of You
4. The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines
6. In France They Kiss On Main Street
7. The Last Time I Saw Richard
8. Raised on Robbery
9. Little Green
10. The Circle Game / Waters of March
11. All I Want / Blue
12. Chelsea Morning
13. Both Sides Now
14. Big Yellow Taxi