Added by Upcoming Robot on August 25, 2007
This was an amazing show, an exploration of the capabilities of the human voice and body more as a rhythm and lead instrument than a conveyor of lyrics. Improvisation at its purest and finest.
Corea, McFerrin and (Jack) Dejohnette played the entire length of the show without break improvising every note, employing various ethnic flavours such as Asian, Bluegrass, African, Funk, R&B, Classical and Jazz.
Mr. Corea played the piano sparsely on some pieces and richly on others depending on the feel and used it as a percussion and string instrument as well, tapping the inner harp of the piano with a vibraphone mallet one minute and plucking at the harp itself with his fingers. Also using the outer piano frame itself as a percussion instrument.
DeJohnette used a substantial drum kit with several standard cymbals but most had an upright cymbal above them reminiscent of Tibetan singing bowls adding an extra dimension to his playing (as if he needed extra hardware to accomplish that!). He gave a fantastic drum solo that was both rhythmic and melodic that brought the audience, or what was left of it, to its feet.
"What was left of it?" you ask. Clearly a lot of people in attendence just didn't "get" it. I lost count but my friend and I are certain at least 100 people walked out of the hall before it was halfway over. I suppose they were expecting a more conventional performance with recognizable lyrics and easy to clap to beats (Mr. McFerrin had to hold up his hand twice to get people to stop attempting to clap to the music)...at times the artistry was drowned out by the sound of minds slamming shut. (Although I do admit, having listened over and over to the Corea/McFerrin version of Concierto de Aranjuez/Spain from “Rendezvous in New York”, I was hoping to hear it live.)
He did directly involve the audience with some call and response vocalization, and audience background singing which was just beautiful (and remarkably in tune). And the rest of the time his vocalizations ranged from mantra-like meditations to percussive executions wherein he used his hands, chest, teeth, even his beard and clothing against the microphone to produce sound.
There were playful moments when all three were vocalizing, tossing drumsticks to the floor, playing the drum kit, and there were intense moments where you could almost see the thought processes behind what they were doing..how they decided to go in one direction on minute and another the next. It was clear they were having a blast, unfettered by scores, lyrics, melodies and set rhythms. It was almost as if three musical geniuses got together in the basement and let out every bit of creativity they could muster and it was fabulous.
By the time the show was ¾ over, the remaining audience was comprised mainly of true believers and the distraction of people walking out shaking their befuddled heads was finally at end and we could immerse ourselves in the remainder of the performance. I was glad that the 3 on stage seemed unaffected by the flight of the clueless.
They gave one encore…an interpretation of a well known jazz standard, the title of which escapes me at the moment, and the event ended.
It would be marvelous if a recording of this performance were made available because I’d love to hear it all again.
And on a final note, as an almost life long resident of one of the most musically progressive cities in the world and as an local jazz vocalist, I am embarrassed for all those who couldn’t or wouldn’t keep an open mind.