6

Bobby McFerrin: spirityouall

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau and Jon Hendricks are the most innovative jazz voices of the past 50 years. Our current subject, McFerrin, took the technical capabilities of the human voice, remolding them into the fantastic and delightful forms we recognise as his genius today. spirityouall is McFerrin's celebration of both his father, Robert McFerrin, Sr., the first African-American to sign a contract with the Metropolitan Opera Company and the American musical vernacular called the Spiritual.

McFerrin's father was also an historic interpreter of the American Negro Spiritual, having recorded "Deep River" and Other Classic Negro Spirituals in 1957 (which is curiously unavailable digitally or as a compact disc). The younger McFerrin resculpts three timeless pieces that appeared also on his father's release—"Every time I Feel the Spirit," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "Fix Me Jesus"— making these time-tested songs shine like liquid mercury exploding. McFerrin takes old songs and new originals, even a Dylan tune, melding them in the organic fashion of 1990s Cassandra Wilson, only completing Wilson's evolution in concept and execution. This is fully realized music.

First, no song is allowed a "standard" treatment. No, not one of the thirteen songs here. McFerrin digs in the Delta Dirt with guitarist Larry Campbell's talents with dobro, slide guitar, steel guitar conjuring blues and deep country mojo on "Fix Me Jesus," "Whole World" and an Eddie Son House "Death Letter" stomp on the singer's original take on Psalms, "25:15:" Blind Willie Johnson meets Tommy Johnson at the crossroads of canned heat and the Yazoo river. McFerrin transforms "Wade in the Water" into a steel-guitar rag jazz piece quite unlike anything else. Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" has never been so transformed, sounding like it belongs to McFerrin and his father's spirit.

The riches that make up spirityouall cannot be overestimated. McFerrin is well-inspired and supported on this disc, where he really does something both unique and special. This is music that heals.

Track Listing: Everytime; Swing Low; Joshua; Fix Me Jesus; Woe; I Shall Be Released; Whole World; Gracious; 25:15; Wade; Glory; Jesus Makes It Good; Rest/Yes, Indeed.

Personnel: Bobby McFerrin: vocals; Esperanza Spalding: bass, vocals (1, 2, 7, 11, 13); Larry Campbell: guitars; Gil Goldstein: keyboards; Charley Drayton: drums (1, 2, 7, 11, 13); Ali Jackson: drums (3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13); Larry Grenadier: bass (3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12).

Title: Spirityouall | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Sony Masterworks


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)" CD/LP/Track Review Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Strunkin'" CD/LP/Track Review Strunkin'
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Open Air" CD/LP/Track Review Open Air
by John Kelman
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Passin' Thru" CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Sleight Of Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Sleight Of Hand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "On the Spot" CD/LP/Track Review On the Spot
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 30, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.