Bobby McFerrin & Voicestra

I was pretty into seeing this show. I barely remembered it was coming (in fact, had to be reminded by my wonderful wife). So after a quick bite and a beer at Monk’s, we headed over to the Kimmel Center to grab our seats and be entertained.

And… Wow.

Need I say more? Well, actually, yes…

Bobby McFerrin is a master vocalist. But aside from being a truly gifted instrument, his musical instincts are also razor sharp. This couldn’t have been any clearer than in the show I saw last night.

Voicestra, his 21 year collaborative ensemble, features some seriously dedicated and talented singers who help him realize something truly amazing. By giving voice to the improvisational tidbits that cross Bobby’s mind, they help him create something at once larger than he is capable of alone, and richer in depth.

Reminiscent of a traditional “round”, they grab pieces of his concoction and run with it, allowing him to move on in his vocal explorations. It’s a little like building an orchestra by playing a recording, and then assigning the instruments to recreate their parts from it. It’s also not like that at all, in that this is all coming from Bobby’s head! Not every piece is a masterpiece in itself, but the process, and the voices work so well together, that it is easy to get lost in the sheer joy of every piece.

Humor is present there as well. Pure performer, Bobby wasn’t about to miss congratulating the home team Eagles on their win, but resisted the urge to make anything more than a passing, winking, nod to it. And since this was Voicestra’s first visit to the City of Brotherly Love, I would have expected nothing less than some classy acknowledgment. Speaking of Voicestra, it’s members are not slouches.

Voicestra (2004) is:
Nick Bearde, Joey Blake, Pierre Cook, Julee Cruise, Kirsten Falke-Boyd, Judi Donaghy, Bobby McFerrin, Beth Quist, Rhiannon, Marlon Saunders, Janice Siegel, and Roger Treece.

Visit Mr. McFerrin’s website for more details and tour information. If you get the chance, please go see this man. Even better, with Voicestra. You will not forget it.

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