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{09/01/2008}   Bobby McFerrin

Did I tell you that Bobby McFerrin is a genius?
I remember the days when I thought he was only the guy who sang „Don’t worry, be happy”, and that was it… And that he was a funny guy making music with his face, beard, throat, fingers … well, with everything… After this weekend, he became one of my heroes.

Who is Bobby McFerrin? Hm, well first of all… The son of the late operatic baritone Robert McFerrin, who was the first African American to be a regular with New York’s Metropolitan Opera… Not a bad genealogy I could say. That explains the huge four octaves vocal range he has, and the fast swithing between his normal range and the falsetto (which helps him to play both the voice and the accompanying „instruments”).

What else does he do? He is also capable of throat singing, that is producing a two-or three-part chord of notes from one voice. Hm… and now I learn that he launched the first solo vocal jazz album recorded with no accompaniment or overdubbing… (The Voice).

In addition to his vocal performing career, Mr. McFerrin had a second day-job as the creative chair of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (the only US fully professional chamber orchestra). And he makes regular tours as a guest conductor for other symphony orchestras in Us and Canada, including the San Francisco Symphony, the New York Philharmonic (the oldest active symphony orchestra in the United States), the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic and many others.
His concert appearances are apparently funny mixtures of classical pieces with his vocal improvisations, often with participation from the audience!!! (that’s something we’ve never seen in a philarmonics). „For example, his concerts often end with McFerrin conducting the orchestra in an a capella rendition, in which the orchestra members sing their musical parts in McFerrin’s vocal style, instead of playing their parts on their instruments… or he plays the accompanying instruments, while the orchestra plays the voicing…

Here he is improvising on Bach…

Yeah, and he worked occasionally with monsters like… Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd and DeJohnette…

He won just ten Grammys… for the best jazz performance…


et cetera