Blue Note Records will honor the late Leonard Cohen in the form of a new covers album later this year, entitled Here It Is: A Tribute To Leonard Cohen.
Produced by Larry Klein, the 12-track record will see artists from across the world of music cover some of the iconic singer-songwriter’s most beloved and profound songs. Norah Jones, Peter Gabriel, Iggy Pop, Mavis Staples, and more will all contribute, sharing their own homages to Cohen with versions of tracks including “Suzanne,” “You Want It Darker,” “Steer Your Way,” and “Famous Blue Raincoat.”
Each song is performed by a band made up of what Klein describes as “a group of the most prescient and forward-looking musicians in the jazz world.” They include guitarist Bill Frisell, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Nate Smith with additional contributions from Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar and Larry Goldings on organ.
The first song from Here It Is: A Tribute To Leonard Cohen has been shared in the form of James Taylor’s elegant take on “Coming Back To You.” “When Larry Klein invited me to participate in a Leonard Cohen tribute album, I accepted immediately,” Taylor said. “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.
“For the project, I was drawn to a relatively obscure piece that was new to me, ‘Coming Back To You.’ Larry opted to cut the song in Cohen’s original key, which was certainly at the bottom of my own range. But somehow, moving me out of my comfort zone helped me find my own approach to the song. Like so much of Leonard Cohen’s writing, this lyric resonates deeply with his forlorn and hopeless take on the bleak landscape of love and attachment. So, breathe a deep sigh and drink up…”
Klein added of the album as a whole: “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 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.
“It was an immensely gratifying experience to recontextualize these poems and shine a different light on them. I hope that this musical language that we developed together, the context that we put these things in, makes the songs connect with people in a new way.”
Here It Is: A Tribute To Leonard Cohen will be released on October 14 via Blue Note Records and will be available to purchase on exclusive color vinyl, black vinyl, CD, or digital download.
Last year, jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd and his band The Marvels shared their own cover of Cohen’s “Anthem,” also released on Blue Note. The track featured on his album Tone Poem and also featured Leisz and Frisell, alongside bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland.
Here It Is: A Tribute To Leonard Cohen tracklist:
1. Steer Your Way – Norah Jones
2. Here It Is – Peter Gabriel
3. Suzanne – Gregory Porter
4. Hallelujah – Sarah McLachlan
5. Avalanche – Immanuel Wilkins
6. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye – Luciana Souza
7. Coming Back To You – James Taylor
8. You Want It Darker – Iggy Pop
9. If It Be Your Will – Mavis Staples
10. Seems So Long Ago, Nancy – David Gray
11. Famous Blue Raincoat – Nathaniel Rateliff
12. Bird On The Wire – Bill Frisell