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Bobby McFerrin – Solo

Waltons World Masters Series

‘This was not one man alone in a vast hall, but a medium both uniting with his enrapt audience and invoking and shaping the spirits of absent multitudes into a unique, inclusive music which ultimately spoke of hope for these troubled days.’
– all about jazz

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When Monday, 26 May 2008
Where National Concert Hall, Dublin, Main Auditorium
Presented by Waltons New School of Music
Supported by RTÉ lyric fm, The Irish Times

This concert was recorded for broadcast on RTÉ lyric fm.

Collaborative Workshop/Performance

When Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Where St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick
Presented by
Waltons New School of Music
World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick

‘”Singing is healthy for the soul”, McFerrin said, a sentiment with which this astounded audience would probably agree.’
– The Independent

‘The critics in Germany call him Stimmwunder (wonder voice), and it’s not hard to understand why. There is something almost superhuman about the range and technique of jazz vocalist McFerrin.’
– Newsweek

Siobhán Long

The Irish Times, 31 May 2008

Aboriginal songlines, Gregorian chant, choral excavations and jazz and blues inventions: Bobby McFerrin trades in soul food. To suggest that he’s uncategorisable is to merely hint at his eclecticism. Truth is, McFerrin’s an artist whose blinding originality has set him on a course that has no maps but is awash with possibilities lurking in every curve of the road.

Much has been made of McFerrin’s four-octave vocal range, and it is truly a thing of rare beauty: enabling him to dispense almost completely with such mundane considerations as mere words. Using his chest as a percussive force, he ekes out the treble and bass of Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus from the muscles of his thorax: his taut fingers in constant search of the countless rhythms they can call “home”.

We might have been at a gospel revival meeting, but when Mc Ferrin blithely asked for a chorus of 12, he could have been overrun with volunteers. Ultimately he conducted almost 40 singers through a lengthy improvisation that tasted of sheer unpredictability.

Earlier, he invoked a magical rhythmic backdrop for a solo dancer (again plucked from the audience), who made hay of his sensual, impish pulses and patterns, her body movements glorying in their sheer unpredictability.

Percussionist Robbie Harris loped on stage, as if to the gallows, but once he settled alongside McFerrin, their molecules merged and he transformed the bodhrán from leaden pace-maker to a time capsule of infinite possibilities.

Liam Ó Maonlaoí brought sean nós and lilting to new plains in McFerrin’s company, revelling in his unfettered world where soul and self-expression mean everything and rigid rules are jettisoned – utterly.

A closing Ave Maria, based on Bach’s Prelude No. 1, stilled the packed audience: McFerrin inhabiting Bach, and transforming the rest of us into choral novitiates in milliseconds.

Yet another bravura performance that celebrates music as a primal essence: as crucial to our sense of ourselves as breathing itself.

Selected YouTube Videos

Bobby McFerrin
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