Just quickly, New York proved its awesomeness the other night by turning up an opportunity to go see improvisational maestro Bobby McFerrin play a gig at the Highline Ballroom as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival with a band he described as one of his personal favourites, The Yellowjackets.
Bit of an unusual gig – The Yellowjackets didn’t really do it for me so much, seeming a little bit too uptight and not “just going with the music”. I can’t quantify that particularly well, but it’s a statement of taste, so I don’t really need to. They’re probably very good, just not my cup of tea. Bobby did a lot more “traditional singing” than I’ve ever seen him do before, and it was well over halfway in before he got into any vocal improv, at which point it felt like the room warmed up a bit. It could also be that by then most of the people seated had finished eating their dinner.
Maybe it was the already restrained nature of the setup – there was a late gig by the same talent scheduled to start at 10pm – which took away the “anything can happen” feel that accompanies Bobby’s shows normally. There was eventually some neat riffing about a funky Hammond groove and pleas to get a mirror ball working, and the finale of a really nice arrangement of Moondance left me with enough to walk out of the venue with a grin on. A good gig, not a great one. Like I said – it was probably just that I didn’t like The Yellowjackets so much.
Note: it appears that someone’s already uploaded a video from the gig featuring one of Bobby’s impro bits. Nice. Real nice.