Bobby McFerrin: The Voice

The Songs:

  1. Blackbird
  2. The Jump
  3. El Brujo
  4. I Feel Good
  5. I’m My Own Walkman
  6. Music Box
  7. Medley: Donna Lee/Big Top/We’re in the Money
  8. I’m Alone
  9. T.J.
  10. Take the “A” Train

Personnel:

Bobby McFerrin – vocals

Recorded live during a series of concerts in Germany in March of 1984, The Voice is Bobby McFerrin’s second album. It is notable in that it was the first time that a jazz vocalist had recorded an unaccompanied solo album. He grew up in a very musical home. His father, Robert McFerrin Sr., was sang with the Metropolitan Opera. His mother was also an opera singer and a professor of music at Fullerton College in California. When asked about his decision to do solo concerts, he said:

“I came up with this crazy idea just to walk out on the stage with no band at all and just start singing whatever came to mind. I actually fought the idea for a while because it seemed almost too radical, but it became obvious what I was supposed to be doing.”

On The Voice, Bobby McFerrin showcases his impressive range and unique vocal gymnastics, covering lead lines, accompanying parts, vocal sound effects and even percussion by adding hand claps, thumping on his chest, etc. The album contained several original tunes, as well as covers of jazz and pop standards. These included the 30’s pop song “We’re in the Money,” the Ellington/Strayhorn theme “Take the ‘A’ Train,” and the Charlie Parker/Miles Davis bop workout “Donna Lee,” as well as James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and the Lennon/McCartney classic Blackbird which became a frequent concert staple for him over the years.

“When I’m on stage by myself, I don’t have to think about anything. I don’t have to worry about anything because I’m not responsible for anything except just opening my mouth and making sure music comes out.”

The Voice became a springboard for McFerrin’s career, which led to important recordings with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, the Manhattan Transfer, and even the music for several Rudyard Kipling stories, narrated by Jack Nicholson. He went on to a #1 hit with the smash, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and today enjoys a thriving career, both as a singer and conductor, including a long partnership with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He continues to do solo concerts, inviting the audience to join in with him. Today, The Voice remains a classic in the history of jazz singing. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Viewing:

Bobby McFerrin: Live in Montreal

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