By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Following the release of “River: The Joni Letters,” keyboardist Herbie Hancock will embark on a seven-date West Coast tour, kicking off Nov. 8 in Fairfield, CA and winding down on Nov. 16 in Phoenix, AZ.

In addition to band members Vinnie Colaiuta, Nathan East and Lionel Loueke, Hancock will be joined by young singing sensation Sonya Kitchell, who will handle vocal duties for performances of songs appearing on the album, a tribute to Hancock’s friend and fellow music icon Joni Mitchell. The concert tour will also include songs spanning Hancock’s illustrious five-and-a-half decade career.

“When Sonya and I first met at one of her performances last year, I was blown away by her professionalism, her grace and, of course, her amazing voice,” Hancock said in a statement. “We brought her in to perform Joni’s ‘All I Want’ for ‘River,’ and I was sold. She’s definitely one to watch, and I’m thrilled she can join us for the West Coast dates.”

Citing Joni Mitchell as one of her key influences, the now 18-year-old Kitchell released her debut album “Words Came Back to Me” in spring 2005 to widespread acclaim. This tour marks the second live collaboration between Kitchell and Hancock, who last year invited the young vocalist to perform with his all-star band at the Sonoma Jazz Festival.

“River: The Joni Letters,” which debuted at the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart following its Sept. 25 release, is a collection of songs, composed by or influential to Joni Mitchell. Arranged and produced by Hancock with producer Larry Klein (Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux, Brandi Shearer), the album features vocal performances by Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Tina Turner and Mitchell herself. Kitchell’s performance of “All I Want” appears exclusively on the version of the album.

Herbie Hancock itinerary:

11/8/07 – Fairfield Center for the Performing Arts – Fairfield, CA
11/9 John Van Duzer Theater – Arcata, CA (Humboldt State University)
11/10/07 – Nob Hill Masonic Center – San Francisco, CA (San Francisco Jazz Festival)
11/11/07 – Campbell Hall – Santa Barbara, CA (UCSB)
11/14/07 – Centennial Hall – Tucson, AZ (University of Arizona)
11/15/07 – Lensic Performing Arts Center – Santa Fe, NM
11/16/07 – Orpheum Theatre – Phoenix, AZ