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Bobby McFerrin Toronto Jazz Festival 2014 live review

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Bobby McFerrin Toronto Jazz Festival 2014 live review

Bobby McFerrin Toronto Jazz Festival 2014 - Copyright THE SCENE MAGAZINE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Bobby McFerrin Toronto Jazz Festival 2014 – Copyright THE SCENE MAGAZINE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Who: Bobby McFerrin
From: New York, NY
When: June 27, 2014
Where: TD Toronto Jazz Festival – Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, ON
Style: A-Capella/Jazz From Another Planet


Bobby McFerrin’s set at the 2014 TD Toronto Jazz festival, backed by his daughter and an all star band was nothing short of incredible. The ten time Grammy Award winner held the crowd in awe for the better part of 90 minutes, pulling out one surprise after another. The set started off with a solo piece that had the band slowly coming in, followed by an impromptu Country jam in which McFerrin sang “We are having such a really good time up here..” followed by “This is the Toronto Country Western Bluegrass Festival here, we’re at the right festival aren’t we? ok.”

Not long after McFerrin and band performed the Steve Winwood/Bind Faith classic ‘Can’t Find My Way home’ in respectable fashion. Soon after a gospel version of ‘Fix Me Jesus’ had McFerrin engaging the audience in which he handed a mic to local singers Nicole Brooks and Amina Alfred to which they joined in on the song for the better part of 3 minutes, that ended in a standing ovation from the crowd. Brooks is part of local openers ‘Soul Nannies’ and joined McFerrin much in the same manner again later in the show. It was a dream come true for the local talent as she stated in an interview after the show:

“I’ve seen so many YouTube clips where people sing with him, and I was like ‘I’m going to do that one day. So the fact that the day actually happened and I manifested that, I’m blown away! I don’t know what to do with myself right now. I’m gonna run around Nathan Phillips Square a couple of time like if I had the Holy Ghost” – said Brooks after the show.

In fact, engaging the crowd seemed to be a big part of the show as McFerrin stopped to engage no less than half a dozen signers of various talents level throughout the performance. The most engaging song was “He has the whole world in his hands” in which three audience members participated.

The crowd interplay was enough to keep the audience mesmerized but the double solo set with daughter Madison was the highlight of the evening. Starting out with Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” the duo froze time. However, Bobby stopped after the song to point out jokingly that he was slightly off key stating that his daughter was signing in A440 while he was somewhere around A338. Bobby and Madison McFerrinAfter a brief moment where the legend went to hit a piano key, he returned for the next song ‘Mere Words’ from 1995’s Bang! Zoom, McFerrin stopped and pointed out the echo on the microphone asking the crowd “Where’s that echo coming from?”. “He never does that!” stated Madison McFerrin after the show. The playful nature of it, made it feel like an intimate jam session and was certainly the least pretentious thing we’ve seen in a while.

The encore was a minute and a half long rendition of The Beatles ‘Black Bird’, done in classic McFerrin style.

Overall, there was hardly a dull moment as the entire set felt very real an unpretentious and in case you were wondering, no he’s didn’t play “THAT SONG”…thank goodness!

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Other notable moment: Band member David Mansfield’s attempt at playing the head to Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker’s ‘Confirmation’ on a Mandolin, now that sh*t, ain’t easy!

Band line up:

Bobby McFerrin – Vocals
Madison McFerrin – Vocals
Jeff Carney – Acoustic Bass
Louis Cato – Drums/Gtr/Bass Gtr/Vocals
Goldstein, Gil – Keys
Armand Hirsch – Electric & Acoustic Guitars
David Mansfield – Violin/Mandolin/Guitars

Photos and Words: Darrell J Shelley


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