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Abyssinian Jazz Vespers, Sake and Jazz, McFerrin ‘Spirityouall’

Ron Scott | 1/30/2014, 4:14 p.m.

The theme was based on his latest release, “Spirityouall,” which came out in May 2013. The album’s live version was a vocal journey of spirituals mixed with the gut-bucket blues, gospel and Baptist Sunday morning spirit. Some of the tunes included “The Walls of Jericho,” “Fix Me Jesus” and “Swing Low.”

Improvisational tunes with McFerrin’s wit and humor included just a take on his conversation about how to “fill the void” and a quick Thelonious Monk tune, “It’s Over Now.” He uses his voice as a beatbox, saxophone, bass and clarinet, then he offers up exciting a cappella escapades and quick floor beats resembling a melodic conga.

McFerrin’s music is distinctly independent of categories. He takes jazz, pop, African, classical and rock music and dresses them up with his multiphonics and harmonies that are as unique and refreshing as a colorful rainbow after the rain. Madison McFerrin’s rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t Worry About a Thing” was deep soul with her father’s natural beatbox as the background.

Bobby McFerrin’s sons Taylor and Jovan later joined him on stage in an all-out McFerrin improvisational a cappella run. His able ensemble for the evening included pianist, music director and arranger Gil Goldstein; violinist and mandolin player David Mansfield; guitarist (electric and acoustic) Armand Hirsch; acoustic bassist Jeff Carney; and drummer, guitarist and vocalist Louis Cato.

McFerrin is a spirited force who is one with the music, as confirmed by the three-minute-long standing ovation.