Joni Mitchell | Wiki­Commons

The Hillcats, Hillsdale’s faculty jazz band, will perform “The Music of Joni Mitchell,” from her iconic “Big Yellow Taxi Cab” to her later jazz work at 8 p.m. Sat­urday in Markel Audi­torium. The concert fea­tures Sunny Wilkinson, Hillsdale’s res­ident jazz vocalist, in her final concert at Hillsdale. Wilkinson will be singing Mitchell’s ver­satile music which fea­tures complex har­monies and upbeat rhythms.

“Joni Mitchell is the poet lau­reate of our gen­er­ation,” Wilkinson said. “She’s leaps and bounds ahead and apart from all the others.”

The faculty will also perform the work of jazz artist Charles Mingus, who worked closely with Mitchell when she turned from folk to jazz. Wilkinson said Mingus would not let anyone write lyrics to his jazz music until he met Mitchell. She wrote a record of lyrics to his songs, some of which the Hillcats will perform at the concert.

“Joni Mitchell’s music was far more in depth as far as harmony goes,” Chris McCourry, director of jazz ensembles, said. “Because of that, she was pulled into the jazz world.”

McCourry said jazz players could under­stand her har­monies that folk players couldn’t because her work had the com­plexity of jazz.

Wilkinson herself has had an impressive musical career, winning two Grammy awards and touring with jazz artists.

Junior per­cus­sionist Aaron Andrews said he is looking forward to seeing how the jazz faculty take Mitchell’s folk sound and turn it into jazz.

“Sunny’s voice is perfect for Joni Mitchell,” he said.

Wilkinson will be joined by McCourry, Jon Gewirtz, Arlene McDaniel, Hank Horton, and Larry Ochiltree.

“I take lessons from Jon Gewirtz,” junior Heather Wood­house said. “I love watching him play the sax­o­phone. He’s a peaceful, quiet guy and he just shreds on sax­o­phone, let me tell you.”  Wood­house said she is grateful to work with the jazz faculty, and since joining the jazz program, has realized how accom­plished they are.

“It’s just inspiring,” she said. “We don’t just take lessons from our pro­fessors and work with them in combo and big band. We get to see them perform, and that shows they practice what they preach.”

On her farewell concert, Wilkinson said,

“It’s very special to me. I am very fond of the stu­dents and very good friends with the faculty.”