Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette
Masonic Auditorium, SF, Ca
April 17, 2008
What a fun night!! This was a fabulous, fun, light-hearted, whimsical trio that made some great music! and the best news is, they're on tour for a bit longer so go check it out, you'll leave with a smile on your face!
I didn't really know what to expect, it did strike me that this was the second time this week I'd be seeing a trio that was mostly improvised and based in jazz. This trio has the benefit of time though, they've played together before (I think they even have an album together?) and while it was improvised, it was not with the same newness of the Telstar trio. This trio definitely had history together, it was cute to see how they displayed it. McFerrin frequently took a seat on the tiny piano bench next to Corea, sometimes adding a third hand to the piano, sometimes sharing his mic and sometimes just sitting next to a friend and egging him along.
The set started off with McFerrin doing some vocalizations, then Corea joined in on piano, but using it as a percussion instrument, there was a lot of that, reaching into the piano to pluck strings, striking the strings or the sides of the piano with a hand held mallet, striking finger symbols on the strings, all sorts of unique piano techniques. So of course when DeJohnette joined in a moment later, he didn't just sit at the drum kit and play, he had some stuff I couldn't really see, a keyboard with a bunch of special effects perhaps, he made all sorts of crazy noises? At times, there were so many odd sounds coming from the stage it was tough to tell exactly who was doing what When DeJohnette did start playing the drums, I really liked it, very gentle touch but lightening fast and rock solid!
The first piece they did and also the encore were very Gershwin-esque, kinda Rhapsody in Blue. The whole night was a cartoon to me. They sound really evoked a place and time, for me it was definitely a 1930's NYC, McFerrins vocalizations easily became a little character, some kind of little critter moving along through the night. So, while the songs weren't highly structured or related, they still tied together in my head, there was a distinct arc and story line to the set. The trio was really able to capture a sound and instantly create entire worlds. Given nothing but a blank red curtain, a few musicians doing goofy things and active imagination, I went to all sorts of places last night
It was a short show, or rather a show typical for jazz, one set plus an encore, an hour twenty total time. I could have used more, while this was a concert, the music was just one part of the entertainment. It was definitely part comedy routine as well. One of the biggest laughs of the night came when DeJohnette who'd been the 'straight man' all night joined in the vocal stylings. McFerrin and Corea were sitting together on the piano bench, three hands on the keys, McFerrin cooing and clicking, Corea almost singing along, was more like a hum at that point and from the opposite side of the stage DeJohnette starts to sing and hum and beep in a joking 'hey don't forget about me' impression of McFerrin...it was great! The laughs were big on stage and off.
Shortly after that the whole thing broke down into all three musicians singing and vocalizing, with the audience clapping along, at that point, there was an audience participation segment, which I could have done without, a lot of unison clapping and a bunch of call and response with McFerrin getting the crowd to mimic his ridiculousness, it was cute at first but 2 minutes was all I needed, not 10. But really, I'm not gonna complain about those 8 minutes, the rest of the show made up for it.
At one point it was like a futuristic sci-fi sort of soundtrack, I never would have guessed a drum kit, a piano and a voice could make all those noises, it was so intriguing, it was a pricey ticket, but I walked away satisfied!
One of the things that really struck me about this trio is how well balanced it is, all three were amazing and unique and they worked together perfectly, there was were solos but they never broke the group feel. There wasn't any highlighting of a single star, everything was well balanced. I always like that, they're all on the same page, functioning as one cohesive unit. Of course, it helps that they're all super stars
bravo! fantastic review; you provided a real slice of life and virtually transported me into the hall. How was the sound? I think there is an argument going on somewhere else on this board regarding the sound at the Masonic.
Really good review Emily.
This is one I skipped because I'm not a big fan of McFerrin (usually too cutesy for me) and while I totally respect DeJohnette his style is not my favorite, but it's nice to hear how the show was and you dialed it well.
And I'm one of the Masonic sound argument participants; I say for a big hall it sounds good. I see ALLOT of jazz shows in various rooms and IMO if a quiet, articulate jazz show can sound good in a room then the sound in that room is essentially good for anything, it just needs to be worked correctly.
I thought the Masonic sounded fine last night, it was extremely quiet in the crowd, and McFerrin was soft and quiet at times but still completely audible. I've seen a bunch of stuff there and never had sound complaints.
and yes, McFerrin was definitely cutesy, I'm sure that's part of the reason I liked it, it wasn't the typical stuffy jazz routine.
Nice review, Emily!
I love seeing Chick any chance I get (anxious for RTF in June).
I'm pretty sure I've seen McFerrin before but, I can't place it.
I saw DeJohnette once and it still ranks as one of my top 5 concerts ever - 6-10-90, I think, Hatch Shell Boston. Free show. Jack led a band with Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, and Pat Metheny. It's fun to get knocked on your ass once in awhile.
MMMMMMMMMMMM, Parallel Realities. SOOO Yummy.
>>Parallel Realities: Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, and Pat Metheny.
They released a live DVD and CD of the show I saw at the Academy of Music in Philadlephia. Still ranks as one of the finest concerts I've ever seen!
Jack DeJohnette is my favorite living drummer.
Sounds like a fun show Emily, nice review.
I have that DVD. To me, it was a must buy.