Blue Note Records—the storied jazz label behind landmark releases from Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, and more—has announced a new album of Leonard Cohen songs performed by other musicians. Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen is out October 14. It includes covers from Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones, Sara McLachlan, James Taylor, David Gray, and Nathaniel Rateliff. The musicians were each joined by a backing band that includes Bill Frisell, Immanuel Wilkins, and Kevin Hayes, among others. The album was produced by Larry Klein.
Ahead of the album’s release, Blue Note has shared a new version of “Coming Back to You,” recorded by James Taylor. The song, which appeared on Cohen’s 1984 album Various Positionswas re-recorded by Taylor at the Barn in Washington, Massachusetts, and features musical contributions from Frisell, Wilkins, and Hayes, alongside Scott Colley on bass, Gregory Leisz on pedal steel, and Larry Goldings on organ.
“When Larry Klein invited me to participate in a Leonard Cohen tribute album, I accepted immediately,” Taylor shared in a statement. “Both because Larry is a great producer of excellent recordings and a good friend, and because, like almost everyone in my generation, I venerate Leonard Cohen. As soon as I began seeking out my own musical preferences, Cohen’s songs were among my few favorites and had a major influence on my own progression as a songwriter.
Klein shared that the album was inspired by his personal history with the songwriter. “Leonard Cohen had been a friend since 1982 or so, and in the last 15 years of his life, he became a close friend,” he said in a statement. “He was possibly the wisest and funniest friend that I had, and someone that I enjoyed, immensely, in every way. After he passed away, I found myself frequently covering his songs with other artists that I was working with. One reason, of course, is that the songs are so good—in a certain way, Leonard is the best pop songwriter ever—but the other reason was that it helped keep him in the air around me.”
The new 12-track release follows another compilation from earlier this year: Hallelujah & Songs from His Albums collected 17 of Cohen’s most well-known songs, including a previously unreleased version of “Hallelujah” recorded at the 2008 Glastonbury Festival. In March, Cohen’s song catalog was sold to Hipgnosis Song Fund for an undisclosed sum.
Read Pitchfork’s feature “How Leonard Cohen Haunted the Trump Era.”
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