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DVD/Video/Film Reviews

Bobby McFerrin: Try This at Home

By Published: September 17, 2005
Bobby McFerrin
Try This at Home
EuroArts
2005

Bobby McFerrin has the audience in the palm of his hand for this one-man concert that he performed in 2001 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He communicates with the large audience naturally and evokes a friendly response. Who else can afford to be so corny with his lyrics and so fresh with his unique vocal delivery? Unlike the irritating manner in which many artists begin a big concert affair with "I can't hear you-ooo, McFerrin gets an instant response from the crowd just by being himself. He doesn't have to ask for response, it's automatic. His unusual delivery and homespun manner endears him to our hearts from the very first vocal downbeat.

The camera work on Try This at Home captures all the nuances. The audience interaction brings us closer to the program, as McFerrin strolls through the rows of people, meanders around the stage, and even gives the cameraman a few unexpected close-ups. He's a remarkable entertainer who can make you laugh in an instant.

McFerrin's performance can be summed up in one word: spontaneous. And that's why they call it jazz.

On "'Staccato Groove, he has a lot of fun with the on-stage cameraman, moving in unexpected directions while singing. On "Opera-Style, he crawls through the audience, interacting and having fun. The performance is so entertaining that it makes you want to see more. "Ducks mimics the universal appeal of baby talk, while "Folk Rap takes advantage of McFerrin's unique vocal percussion delivery.

Head in My Bed Blues offers the best musical treat of the evening, as McFerrin reaches back to the world's most comfortable form of communication. He invents the song's lyrics on the spot, and interacts with his audience in a natural manner. He's every man at work.

Singing is one of the most natural functions that we encounter in our daily lives. Bobby McFerrin helps us realize that we, too, can sing anytime we care to. He lets it fly, draws everyone else into his performance, and creates fun for the whole family. Along the way, we're treated to a hearty sample of jazz, blues, gospel, and beyond.


Tracks: Harmonizin'; Try This at Home; In the Morning; Staccato Groove; Opera-style; The Shirt-Scratching Song; Ducks; The Name Song; Head in My Bed Blues; Calypso Song; More Singin'; Folk Rap; Walkin' on the Beat; Out We Go.

Musician: Bobby McFerrin: vocals.

Program notes: Directed by Joe Brandmeier; 43 minutes.



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