Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
DB [07.2013] Bobby McFerrin

DB [07.2013] Bobby McFerrin

Ratings: (0)|Views: 45 |Likes:
Bobby McFerrin
Lyrical & Spiritual
by Allen Morrison
For years he’s sung mostly songs without words, or in improvised languages of his own invention, as if mere words wereinadequate to express what was in his head and heart. Now, 11 years afer releasing an album titled Beyond Words and afer many albums in which formal lyrics were the exception, Bobby McFerrin has returned to singing the type of songs in which the lyrics are as essential as the music, with words that express his deepest yearnings: spirituals.
Bobby McFerrin
Lyrical & Spiritual
by Allen Morrison
For years he’s sung mostly songs without words, or in improvised languages of his own invention, as if mere words wereinadequate to express what was in his head and heart. Now, 11 years afer releasing an album titled Beyond Words and afer many albums in which formal lyrics were the exception, Bobby McFerrin has returned to singing the type of songs in which the lyrics are as essential as the music, with words that express his deepest yearnings: spirituals.

More info:

Published by: Lew Quzmic Baltiysky on Jun 24, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

08/30/2013

pdf

text

original

 
F
or years he’s sung mostly songs without words, or in improvised languages o his own invention, as i mere words wereinadequate to express what was in his head and heart. Now, 11 years afer releasing an album titled
Beyond Words
 and afer many albums in which ormal lyrics were the exception, Bobby McFerrin has returned to singing the type o songs in which the lyrics are as essential as the music, with words that express his deepest yearnings: spirituals.
On the exhilarating new album
spirityouall 
 (Sony Masterworks), he has reinvented seven clas-sic Negro spirituals and composed ve new songs.Tere is also one cover, a moody, searching versiono Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Te songs,McFerrin writes in the album’s liner notes, “arebased in my Christian aith but acknowledge andreect the spirit o 
YO
ALL, wherever your partic-ular aith and journeys may take you.”Te album represents another signicantdeparture: Afer many discs in which McFerrinexpanded his musical palette to incorporate stylesbeyond jazz and pop, including classical, MiddleEastern, Arican and Indian, his new oering is, inthe truest sense o the word, Americana. It embrac-es olk songs, country blues, swampy blues rock,and church music o both the Arican-Americanand Anglo variety. And there are two bluegrass-a- vored tunes, including “Rest,” an irresistible hoe-down in 11/8. Despite plenty o jazzy grooves andchanges, as well as some typically inventive andacrobatic scat-singing, this album is not about jazz.It’s about the songs—the aith, courage and wis-dom embodied in the spirituals, which are, afer all,a uniquely American invention. McFerrin exploresthis tradition with joy and reverence.Te album also honors the legacy o his ather,the great baritone Robert McFerrin Sr., the rstArican-American to sing a leading role at theMetropolitan Opera House; he also dubbedthe singing voice o Sidney Poitier as Porgy inHollywood’s version o 
Porgy And Bess
. In 1957,the elder McFerrin recorded
Deep River 
, an albumo classic spirituals that he learned rom the amedchoral conductor Hall Johnson.Bobby McFerrin has previously recorded andperormed with Chick Corea, Yo-Yo Ma andYellowjackets, among many others. But or thisproject he has assembled a band he can call hisown, with the help o arranger and co-produc-er Gil Goldstein, who plays keyboards and accor-dion throughout. Actually there are two bands,one on the album and one or the tour, both led by Goldstein and both impressive. On the recording,the group includes Esperanza Spalding, who singsand plays bass, alternating with Larry Grenadier;Ali Jackson and Charley Drayton on drums; andLarry Campbell, who delivers exceptional peror-mances on acoustic and resonator guitars, ddle,pedal steel, mandolin and cittern.Te touring band, meanwhile, includesGoldstein and other top-shel players: DavidManseld on assorted strings, Armand Hirsch onacoustic and electric guitar, Louis Cato on drumsand percussion, and the 30-year McFerrin veteranJe Carney on upright bass. McFerrin, who startedout in 1979 as a singer/pianist, plays keyboards onone track and, as the spirit moves him, in concert.Beore McFerrin arrived on the scene, therewere jazz singers, there were singer-songwriters,there were scat singers and there were band sing-ers. But when he rose to prominence in the early ’80s, his our-octave range and uncanny ability tosing all the parts o a tune simultaneously—bass,melody, harmony and percussion—instantly puthim in a category by himsel. Still, he was mostly a jazz phenomenon until 1988, when “Don’t Worry,Be Happy” became the rst a cappella song ever toreach No. 1 on the op 40 charts, winning threeGrammys, including Record o the Year. What may have struck some initially as a kind o jazz vocalnovelty act—the beatboxing, radio dial ddling,backwards guitar eects, muted trumpet, gargling,and kazoo sounds, all o which were in evidenceon his 1984 solo tour de orce
Te Voice
—was justthe initial ash o an exploding talent that has sincethen radiated more proound musical inventionand joy in singing.Goong around at a soundcheck at LongIsland’s Adelphi University recently, the athlet-ic McFerrin, 63, bounds around the stage like akid in a playground. Dressed in jeans and a char-coal sweater, he looks like a man in his orties. Agrandmaster o microphone techniques, he scatsand makes various sound eects (cars, trains, toy trumpets). He uses his torso as a drum, requent-ly striking his upper chest just below the clavicle—a
Bobby McFerrin
By Allen Morrison
S
 Photography by Adam McCullough
 
Bobb MFerriostge tthe adelphiuiversit Performig arts ceteri Grdecit, n.y.,o april 16
 
32
downbeat
JULY 2013
bobby mcFeRRIn
trademark percussive technique that accompanieshis vocals. Warming up with the great gospel song“Every ime,” he interrupts himsel to emit a high-pitched bark at a little dog sitting in a visitor’s lap inthe ront row. He goes back to scatting, his ngersplying imaginary holes in the microphone.Backstage in his dressing room, eating a plateo strawberries and kiwi slices, he reected on hismusical journey, speaking in quiet, even tones so asnot to tax his voice beore the nearly two-hour con-cert he would deliver.
DowBet:
Spirius r vius  vr ipr- pr f ur i  usi ii.t  u ur risip i s sgs, i  bi.
Bobb MFerri:
My ather had a deeper rela-tionship with them. But I love these pieces, and Ilove what these songs say. Tey say it simply, beau-tiully. Sometimes it’s very dicult to sing thembecause a lot o them came rom slavery. But a songlike “Every ime I Feel Te Spirit” is a wonderulreminder or me to pray. Sometimes I use them asprayers. And when I sing them, I
mean
them. I’mnot just being a singer singing a song, trying toentertain people. In act, the diculty or me is try-ing to get the ocus away rom me and onto the piec-es. Being a perormer on stage, everybody’s lookingat you and thinking about you as a perormer. A loto times, they don’t think about what you’re actual-ly singing about. So my diculty with these piecesin a concert setting is making sure that God gets theglory and I don’t.Tere’s always a special moment or me inevery perormance that’s unique and authen-tic. Te spirituals are authentic pieces o music. Ican remember when I was a kid, probably about8 years old, my ather was studying these spiritu-als with Hall Johnson, who did arrangements o some o them. His grandmother was a slave. So heheard them sung in the genuine renditions: how the phrasing went, the pronunciation o the words,stretching and singing over the bar lines. I can seeHall Johnson leaning over my ather at the pianoand teaching him how to sing these pieces. So my ather got the authentic sounds down into his voice,the authentic eeling. He sang them with deep, deepeeling. He meant every single word that he sang.He always ended his recitals with a set o spirituals.I went to many o them, and at some o them my mother was my dad’s accompanist.
I’s r  fi  rrigs f ur fr sig-ig spirius, u is sigig   surk f
Porgy and be 
s gifi.
Best baritone ever, as ar as I’m concerned. Richtone, very round. Whenever I work with choirs, Ialways go or his sound. I try to get them to singwith that rich, warm tone that my ather had.
as  i, i u r  u  su?
No, I don’t think I ever tried to sound like my dad. In perormances I do sing in an operatic voicerom time to time, just as a orm o entertain-ment—sing the baritone, the soprano.
di u v  fig   r f prs’ ur r?
Oh, I knew it right o. Instinctively, I justthought, “Oh, this is lovely, it’s wonderul, my dad’sgreat at it, but it’s not or me.” I knew that in my teens. I started playing in bands when I was 14, andgot into jazz when I graduated rom high school.
w ki f sgs r u pig gs 14  18?
We’d do op 40 things at high school dances;anything that was on the radio. We played “96ears” [
imitates organ rif 
] “Dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee.” We played “House O Te RisingSun” by Te Animals; we even did Bob Dylan’s“Like A Rolling Stone.” I was in three bands. I hadmy own jazz quintet, Te Bobby Mac Jazz Quintet.And two rock bands that played the op 40,
Te
 Viscounts and
Te
Fascinations. I’ve been a work-ing musician since I was 14 years old; we’re talkingalmost 50 years.
di ur prs v  pii u u -ig  usii?
Just be a good one.
 yu  ifr is u f spirius 20rs g.
Oh, at least 20 years ago. But at the time, Iwasn’t thinking about including the spirituals. Iwas thinking basically about doing original mate-rial o mine. I did dierent experiments, going intothe studio with various musicians to try things out.But it just never panned out.
w?
It seemed like something was blocking it, orsome other gig opportunity would come up andmess with the timing. And also, I was just experi-menting—I think I wasn’t quite ocused enough tocomplete the idea o [what became]
spirityouall 
.
w i u g  i  iu   sgs,
Making 
spirityouall 
B
obby McFerrin’s
 spirityouall 
is an album of spirituals old and new. Co-produced by thesinger’s manager/producer Linda Goldstein and arranger/keyboardist Gil Goldstein (no re-lation), the album contains inventive arrangements of historic Negro spirituals—such as“Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”—alongside McFerrin’s originalcompositions, like “Gracious” and “Jesus Makes It Good.” McFerrin, who sings much of the materialin his soulful baritone register, went into the studio with a brilliant, handpicked acoustic band thatcovers a wide variety of Americana styles, including blues, folk and Appalachian fiddle sounds.Gil Goldstein recalls that McFerrin had very specific ideas about what he didn’t want. “Wemet—Bobby, me and Linda—and did a quick session together about a year before we recorded. Ihad already done a couple of arrangements. I played one of them for Bobby, and he said, ‘Um … Idon’t think so. Too jazzy. This is not a jazz record.’ I said, ‘I just thought these would be nice changesfor you to solo on.’ And he says, ‘I don’t want any nice changes to solo on—that’s jazz. This has tocome more from the material.’ He also wanted everything to sound ‘made up.’ I had to arrangewith an open-ended spirit so that it could seem improvised.”A mainstay of the
 spirityouall 
band is multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, famous for hiswork with Bob Dylan, Levon Helm and many others. McFerrin remembers an experimental firstsession with the band. “There’s a solo piece I wrote called ‘25:15.’ It’s something I came up withwhen I was trying to memorize this Bible verse. Most times, when I’m trying to memorize anything,I’ll sing it. That’s how ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ came about: I saw this phrase while walking down thestreet one day in New York, and I just started singing it. Same thing. So I went into the studio andstarted singing [sings], ‘You know my eyes are ever on the Lord.’ Larry was there, and his ears areincredible—he just picked it up right away. For folk and blues, he’s
the
guy.”The Recording Academy, which has given McFerrin 10 Grammy awards, might have a difficulttime categorizing
 spirityouall 
. Linda Goldstein says, “With the previous album,
VOCAbuLarieS 
, the[Recording Academy] didn’t know where to put it. The New Age people wanted it, and the jazzpeople wanted it. Eventually they decided to put it in ‘Best Classical Crossover.’ This one could be[categorized as] Americana, it could be Folk. He is all music and every music. And he has extraordi-nary freedom. With a lot of jazz singers, you can sort of map their licks. With Bobby, you never knowwhere he’s going to go. He loves to play with expectation and surprise.”
—Allen Morrison
Gil Goldstei (left) performig with MFerri o april 16

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->