Bobby McFerrin: Spirit You All
For this project, the chameleon-like vocalist Bobby McFerrin has drawn together some exemplary jazz talent, notably bassists Esperenza Spalding and Larry Grenadier, for an album that takes traditional African-American spirituals as its focus. It is also a heartfelt homage to his father, baritone Robert McFerrin, the first African-American to sing a title role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The disc opens with ‘Every Time’, a tune that McFerrin Senior recorded in 1957.
The spirituals benefit from Bobby McFerrin’s trademark multi-layering vocal techniques and originality. And Spalding’s vocals blend serenely on ‘Swing Low’ and ‘Glory’. In the latter, McFerrin’s percussive vocals expertly shift the tune up a gear, as it morphs into a high-paced gospel celebration. The tracks with Grenadier are equally rewarding; on a stunning version of ‘Joshua’, McFerrin shows his vocal skills over a bluesy groove, and demonstrates why he is one of the greatest vocal improvisers.