Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bobby McFerrin, Jack DeJohnette and Chick Corea

This was some concert. A voice used as an instrument, never mind the bass, McFerrin was the entire orchestra--and DeJohnette also played flute and sang on the encore. The house was sold out, otherwise I certainly would have shifted to another seat where I could see DeJohnette, but I couldn't and we didn't so I never saw the drummer's face until the end of the hour and a half set. I'd never heard him play that loose before, that open, with such variation....The fact there were just voice, piano and drum and other percussion allowed the work to be much more open-ended.

Parking was horrible so we arrived late. Standing in the hall we heard them playing; the ushers weren't letting us in until the end of the song and then the song never ended so after 10 minutes the rules changed and we were allowed in.

McFerrin was standing near the piano singing as Corea played. Locs tied back, he and Corea improvised while DeJohnette played quietly, then McFerrin went closer and DeJohnette decided he had a lot more to say.

Though we couldn't see, what we heard couldn't have been produced without the aid of technology--McFerrin is good, but the echoes and double voices and repeat tracks was a bit more than he could achieve, though he was certainly amazing to hear as he sang words without words slipping in and out of diction and rhythm...genres: rap and classical.

He was a drum...his voice matching DeJohnette--all three men sang. It was really cool. The audience sang also, and then McFerrin left the stage with a mic, the lights up as he gently challenged several people to sing a line. There were no refusals--if anyone has been to a McFerrin show, she knows it's praticipatory. A woman in our section was so impressive vocally that he stayed with her a little longer--she clearly knew how to sing and knew his technique.

There were kids in the audience and adults-youth and elders, plus people of many cultural backgrounds. The encore was one of the only songs which had words. It was a blues.

The evening was certainly a highlight for me.


At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the show, and was really disappointed. I love all of these musicians, have seen them multiple times with various bands or solo, and was really looking forward to this. Collective improvisation can be great (Art Ensemble of Chicago, for example), but these guys were mostly just goofing around with no real synergy, commitment or music happening. I can take a little of that, but 1 1/2 hours was ridiculous and, at $65, a ripoff.

I was especially ticked that Corea, a piano master, spent most of his time playing a finger cymbal, banging the piano strings with a mallet, and otherwise doing anything but actually play the piano.

Anyway, glad you enjoyed it - wish I could say the same.


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