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Remix and remake

Herbie Hancock's "River" leads a list of stellar new jazz remixes.

One of the most interesting jazz releases of 2007 has to be Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters. On it, the legendary composer and pianist covers a number of classic Joni Mitchell songs--only "cover" doesn't quite describe it. In true modern jazz fashion, the takes are more thematic and spiritual than literal. The combination of Mitchell's haunting lyrics, Hancock's revamped melodies, and vocal cameos by artists from Norah Jones to Tina Turner is often stunning.

River's Hancock-Turner duet, "Edith and the Kingpin," is a highlight of a new jazz playlist, Remix and remake, which includes several other fresh turns on old songs. Not every track is as wildly ambitious as Hancock's, but Billie Holiday with beats, say, should always merit a listen.