Imagine that, an entire two hours performance completely improvised that not only doesn’t fall flat but has the audience singing, clapping hands, and stomping feet. That’s what happened last night with ten times Grammy Awards winner Bobby McFerrin accompanied by David Worm, Joey Blake, and the Jireh Gospel Choir – Circlesongs at the sonic Montreal Symphony House. McFerrin reexplored his 1998 album Circlesongs album and brought new life to it with an inspired ensemble.
In a performance that crossed over from Gospel to Tribal songs, McFerrin led the ensemble with a firm hand, grace, humor, and generosity. Shockingly, Bobby told the audience that he had only met the Montreal-based Choir for the first time that afternoon at soundcheck, and complimented Carol Bernard, the Director for all the talent in her choir and her good work. During the show, multiple members of the ensemble had an opportunity to lead the audience in a singalong elevating our soul and heart.
As I was standing by the Entrée des Artistes with the hope that I would catch Bobby McFerrin (I didn’t), I ran into a few members of the Jireh Gospel Choir, Guerschon Auguste, Angie Télémaque, and Christelle Morteau, who shared with me what it was like to work with McFerrin. AngieTélémaque said to me, and the two others concurred, “Bobby was friendly, natural, and very generous toward us.” Amazingly enough, I learned through them, that the entire performance was improvised from start to finish and that none of the members had been prepared in advance.
Carol Bernard, the Jireh Choir musical director told me that” working with Bobby was an honor and that the improv process was quite stressful, scary and at the same time a high which we haven’t really come down from … because it worked!”
Only under the guidance of a Maestro like McFerrin and master of a capella, author of the world-conquering Don’t Worry Be Happy such a feat be successfully achieved.
What a blessed way to cap off the Montreal Jazz festivities. See you next year for the 40th Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Jazz Fest May be Over But There’s More
Don’t forget to buy your tickets for the Jazz-All-Year-Round upcoming performances in September and October to which I’m planning to review Ziggy Marley.
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