Bobby McFerrin, The Yellowjackets and Chris Botti Delight at the Hollywood Bowl

Events — By on July 16, 2011 at 7:47 am

Bobby McFerrin. Photo by Stewart Cohen.

Yellowjackets provided an excellent backdrop to Bobby McFerrin's exceptional vocal ability.

By Tania Anderson

In a night with an incredible full moon that illuminated The Hollywood Bowl with its brilliance, the luminance actually took place on the stage, with magnificent performances from Bobby McFerrin, The Yellowjackets and Chris Botti.

The evening began with Bobby McFerrin and the Yellowjackets. Bobby McFerrin is much more than a singer and an artist. He is an extraordinary musician, and he crafted his voice like an instrument this night, scatting unlike anyone in recent history. This extraordinary artist immediately drew the audience right in, with a smooth, casual Brazilian sound, which conjured up thoughts of the carefree days of gorgeous Rio, where many whippet-thin girls strolled along the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana sporting “dental floss” bikinis accessorized by 18kt gold chains around their waists.

Some of the deep sounds from McFerrin were delivered directly from the depths of his solar plexus, similar to those of the Tibetan monks, which reached from their being straight into yours, stopping you dead in your tracks. Nobody in the audience made a sound, as all eyes were directly on him. Then, changing tempo, the silence was broken as nearly everyone clicked their fingers in perfect sync.

The international rhythm flowed from McFerrin’s head to toes as his sounds perfectly echoed out towards the audience, elegant and quite simply, out of this world. In his trademark style, McFerrin gently beat on his chest near his heart, and weighed every single sound, which included a full range extraordinaire. He created a full range of sounds from very low to extremely, almost angelic, highs, reminiscent of the Vienna Boy’s Choir.

For a moment, he hesitated to draw in a breath, which was not lost on the audience, as they broke into spontaneous laughter. One song was particularly reminiscent of the “Pink Panther” type jazz of the ‘60s. He geared the audience to actively participate in his music, making a series of sounds, which allowed the crowd to take part in his amazing performance. Like eight different people rolled into one, Mc Ferrin moved into high gear with rapid-fire clicking sounds, and ripples of laughter traveled through the audience as some had to drop out.

“You know my baby makes me wanna jump and when I think about my baby she takes my brain and presses it out,” sang McFerrin as he easily transformed his voice from a casual, simple sound to an ever-growing powerful one that reverberated throughout the Bowl. At the end of the song, keyboardist Russell Ferrante laughed with glee as, Jimmy Haslip the left-handed bass player, later, took an incredible solo. Drummer William Kennedy treated the audience to a real workout as he vigorously thumped away. McFerrin notably, didn’t perform his classic hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” but his performance was so magnificent, no one seemed to mind. Music is the true international language and McFerrin spoke it fluently.

Chris Botti.

Trumpeter Chris Botti’s set was captivating. He started with his rendition of “Ave Maria” and hit such a high note at one point that the audience seemed to collectively hold their breath. But was he still breathing? Yes. He actually held a note for an incredible length of time, using a technique called circular breathing. “Ave Maria” transformed the Bowl into an outdoor cathedral, immediately winning its rapt attention. Botti’s fingers soared on the trumpet as he hit the notes uber-fast while playing. One could easily see the energy and forceful breathing it takes to blow his horn as he does. The confluence of sound was delectable as pianist Billy Childs fingers galloped across the keys in an inspiring melody pregnant with optimism.

Caroline Campbell, the violinist, looked like a svelte mermaid in her shimmering, hug-fitting full-length gown. She propelled us to an ethereal place as she played her beloved instrument while transporting the audience towards the heavens. Her stage presence and expressiveness waws captivating. Her duet with Botti was impeccable, immediately making the audience hungry for more.

The violinist and female vocalist (at press time we unfortunately don’t have her name) added a presence to Botti’s set. The vocalist and Botti went into the crowd and thrilled the audience. The vocalist was strong and a terrific showlady, at one point playing the keys of Botti’s trumpet while he breathed in the instrument.

During one of the the last songs, the only music coming from the stage was that of Botti’s trumpet. The audience once again clicked their fingers in time to the music, and all you could here was just thousands of snapping fingers and one trumpet playing together. In a surprise, Botti bought actress Suzanne Somers to the stage, who recently had recovered from cancer to play drums and she held her own.

The artists exited the stage to the sound of clicking fingers in the audience under the bright full moon, which promised to light their way home.

Tania Anderson.

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