Refuge of the Roads

Re-imagining Joni Mitchell's 'Hejira'

Event Has Passed

Last Show: Monday 23 rd July 2018

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

To mark the 40th anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s seminal album 'Hejira', Sorana Santos recreated the 4200-mile round-trip from Portland, Maine, to LA, on which 'Hejira' was written. I couldn’t sing the songs authentically”, says Sorana, and realised the only way into the album was to do the trip, solo, like she did.”  Alongside presenting a reinterpretation of 'Hejira' as a collage using the Great American Songbook, postmodern composers Adams and Cage, and hints of London and Seattle’s Free Improv and Grunge scenes, Sorana also performs original songs she wrote while travelling across the US, composing songs from astrophysics formulae in response to Mitchell’s metaphysical musings.

"A great talent." Adrian Pallant, London Jazz News

"Took my breath away." Tom Robinson, BBC Introducing

Sorana is a composer, pianist and vocalist whose work incorporates elements of traditional Songwriting and Contemporary Music into the Jazz idiom. Her portfolio includes commissions from and work with the BBC, and The Rose Theatre, Southbank, and Polydor, as well as premieres with Juice Vocal Ensemble and The Bath Festival, and her music has been broadcast on BBC3 and BBC6. Among a diverse range of awards and nominations, Sorana’s first full-length album/book Our Lady of Stars / Books of Hours and Changes, which toured the UK with support from Arts Council England featuring Joe Wright (sax/electronics), Conor Chaplin (bass) and James Maddren (drums), was nominated for BASCA's British Composer Award in 2016 in the Jazz Composition category. 

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s seminal album Hejira, which multi Grammy Award-winning Mitchell wrote over the course of three journeys she took across late 1975 and early 1976, Sorana re-created the most famous journey of them all: the 4200-mile solo road trip Mitchell made from Maine to Los Angeles, following almost exactly the same route Mitchell took in the writing of the album, driving from Portland, Maine, to Florida, around the Gulf of Mexico, and across three deserts back to LA, and visiting some of the album’s landmarks, such as the (recently shut down) guitar shop in Staten Island where Mitchell bought herself a mandolin, and a Bleacker Street gypsy.

Sorana returned to the UK to compose re-imaginings of Herjia based on her experience of recreating the journey - alongside arrangements of the poetry and songs she wrote en route herself, which are based on Mitchell’s metaphysical musings in Hejira.

In this performance, Sorana (voice/piano) - along with Joe Wright (saxophone/electronics), Bruno Heinen (keyboards/piano), Calum Gourlay (bass), and Riccardo Chiaberta (drums) - present Hejira as a collage work that incorporates the Great American Songbook, the music of Contemporary Music composers, Adams and Cage, and a selection of Sorana’s personal favourite modern songwriters such as Chris Cornell and Fiona Apple. Sorana will also be presenting some of her original songs written en route alongside text-settings of the poetry also written on the trip, producing a montage then-and-now experience that warps time and place.

Band Lineup

Sorana Santos (piano/voice)

Joe Wright (saxophone/electronics)

Bruno Heinen (keyboards/piano)

Calum Gourlay (bass)

Riccardo Chiaberta (drums)