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No. 6, May 2000
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Bobby McFerrin
Biography and concert review
For sheet music by
Bobby McFerrin click here
 
Born 50 years ago as the son of two singers of classical music, Bobby McFerrin began to "study" musical theory at the age of six. During high school, at the California State University in Sacramento and at the Cerritos College, he studied and played the piano. Then, he went on tour with the Ice Follies and later with several top 40 bands. It was not until 1977 that Bobby McFerrin decided to become a singer. First he played with the Astral Projection Band in New Orleans. Then, Bill Cosby managed to get him a chance to perform at the Playboy Jazz Festival in 1980. A year later he triumphed at the Kool Jazz Festival in New York. In May 1982 followed his debut album: Bobby McFerrin.
 
After a tour with his own band and gigs with Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin began to perform solo in 1983. His first tour led him through Germany where he recorded the live-album The Voice - his breakthrough as an a cappella-star. Among his following numerous successes are the title music to Taverniers film Around Midnight that got him a Grammy. In 1988 he had a worldwide hit with his easy listening album Simple Pleasures that included the million seller Don't Worry Be Happy. After other successes, Bobby McFerrin turned to classical music in the 1990s, directing orchestras and giving his sometimes very special interpretations.
 
Between an inauguration concert for the Giants Stadium in California and a performance of classical music in Venice, Bobby McFerrin gave a memorable concert at the Off Beat/JSB-Festival in Basel, Switzerland, on April 13, 2000. His performance was completely under the sign of his a cappella-qualities. Barefoot, he came on stage, "armed" only with his voice. A chair, a bottle of mineral water and a glass where his only company.
 
Of course, the microphone was prepared in order to produce reverberations that make his virtuoso technique of superposition of voices easier. Still, there is only one Bobby McFerrin, the master of a cappella. Alone, he performed polyphonic songs, imitated instruments and genres, produced rhythms on which was able to improvise. His ability to connect to the audience and to make them be part of his performance make his concerts unique and unforgettable events.
 
On April 13, Bobby McFerrin exaggerated the contact to the public that was part of half the program. Refreshing in the beginning, it became boring over time and made things a little bit too easy for him, especially as a college class came on stage - they had helped him in the afternoon to prepare for the concert. The boys and girls where too shy and offered less than the public before. Still, Bobby McFerrin was able to show what people can do even with very limited vocal skills and means.
 
From his former albums he sang Drive My Car. Other highlights of the evening were Johann Sebastian Bach's Ave Maria with a remarkable contribution by some women in the public, the Beatles' song Blackbird as well as I Want You So Bad, Babe. As an encore he offered a contemplative piece by Bach. His vocal abilities seemed without limits and he was full of creative energy. Hopefully, the public's enthusiasm will bring Bobby McFerrin back to Basel as soon as possible.
 
For more articles on music (concert reviews, biographies, CDs): Music.
 
 
The Best Of Bobby
McFerrin, 1996.
Get the CD from
Amazon.com
  

Bobby McFerrin:
Simple Pleasures, 1988.
Get the album from
Amazon.com
 

 
 
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 6, May 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.