Doctor Scat – Jazz Master


by on Jul.06, 2011, under Gigs

Tuesday, July 5 When I learned that Bobbie McFerrin was performing at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, I immediately skyped (videophoned ) my friend Ejvind and told him to order five tickets. It was good that we did because the concert sold out in two days.

The performance was at the concert hall of Denmark Radio. The hall was extraordinary, with seating broken up into multiple levels and angles. Great acoustics. Bobbie McFerrin came out on stage alone in jeans and a black tee shirt. After the thunderous opening welcome from the audience, he sat in a chair with a hand held microphone and began to sing rhythmic lines that outlined brilliant harmonic cascades. He supported the rhythm by slapping his chest. The range of his voice was well over 4 1/2 octaves. His falsetto high notes were impeccable and always in tune. After two songs, Bobbie began to talk to the audience, engaging them in a converstation. Then he asked if there were any professional dancers in the audience. Two women and a man came bouncing out to him. With each of the two females he improvised with his voice and they improvised with their bodies. The male dancer started tap dancing in sandals and Bobbie got down on the floor with the mike and improvised so the audience cold hear the tapping. We were entranced by the utter spontaneity of the experience. More thunderous applause. After another medley of tunes, he asked for singers from the audience. Five singers immediately appeared and with each one, he improvised or sang bass lines to support them. After another tune featuring his magnificent low range, he asked for sixteen singers to join him on stage. Forty appeared. He separated them into bass, tenor, alto and soprano and taught each of them polyrhythmic lines with an afro-cuban beat. The crowd was enthralled.

At one point he began to sing a beautiful set of arpeggios that sounded like the upper register of an organ. He raised his hand to the audience and the voices of over fifty women rose spontaneously and with incredible purity, to sing Ave Maria. I have included some clips to give you a taste of the excellence and humanity of Bobbie McFerrin´s concert. At one point in his singing, Bobbie uttered these words: “Every day make something better.” And so it was that every member of the audience was uplifted.

Side note…a bright momnet: Bobbie McFerrin came to the Orpheum in Memphis in 1989. I knew that during his performances he would jump off the stage and go into the audience. I purchased two tickets for my then wife Beth and me tenth row center aisle. Sure enough, he jumped off the stage and walked up the ceter aisle. He walked past me about five rows, turned around and came back to me, He asked for my name and he asked if anyone had ever made a song about my name. I said *no*. He started to sing my name in 5/4 time. I looked up at him and started singing a blues bass line. For a moment he was startled then immediately started to scat sing over my bassline. After a couple of choruses, he started to sing a bass line and I scatted on top of his bass line. The audience went wild. Later my friends asked me if we had rehearsed it. It was totally improvised. We had a ball 🙂

1 comment for this entry:
  1. Karen Diana

    Wow– Bobby’s concert sounds like a dream. I couldn’t find the clips to see him. Glad you enjoyed it. Love you, Karen.

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