July 23, 2019

Winnipeg
23° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Jazz fest closer fun and full of love

Grammy Award-winning performer kept crowd happy, singing

When Bobby McFerrin was announced as one of the headlining artists of this year’s Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, the first thing (and for some, the only thing) that came to mind was his 1988 hit single now synonymous with his name, Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

But for true fans of McFerrin, Sunday night at the Burton Cummings Theatre was a chance to see a 10-time Grammy Award-winning jazz vocal legend in action.

McFerrin, 69, took a seat centre stage and, without saying a word, began to scat. Slowly he was joined by upright bass, piano and mandolin, interacting with each in an almost call-and-response style. It was a very soft introduction to the evening, but it also spoke volumes about the quality of performers on stage.

“I’m good at starting things, but I ain’t good at finishing things,” McFerrin sang, taking a brief scatting break to introduce the audience to his lighthearted and jocular personality for the first, but certainly not the last, time.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

When Bobby McFerrin was announced as one of the headlining artists of this year’s Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, the first thing (and for some, the only thing) that came to mind was his 1988 hit single now synonymous with his name, Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

But for true fans of McFerrin, Sunday night at the Burton Cummings Theatre was a chance to see a 10-time Grammy Award-winning jazz vocal legend in action.

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Vocal legend, Bobby McFerrin, brings his legendary voice to The Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday evening to close out this year's Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.</p>

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Vocal legend, Bobby McFerrin, brings his legendary voice to The Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday evening to close out this year's Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.

McFerrin, 69, took a seat centre stage and, without saying a word, began to scat. Slowly he was joined by upright bass, piano and mandolin, interacting with each in an almost call-and-response style. It was a very soft introduction to the evening, but it also spoke volumes about the quality of performers on stage. 

"I’m good at starting things, but I ain’t good at finishing things," McFerrin sang, taking a brief scatting break to introduce the audience to his lighthearted and jocular personality for the first, but certainly not the last, time.

"I don’t know what I am doing on this piano, I never play it, ever," he crooned to a classic blues melody, while playing the piano very well.

McFerrin is known for his vocal prowess — impressive jumps in pitch, scatting, improvisation — and much of his set was focused on these techniques. He patted his chest with force to keep the beat and alter the tone of his lower register; he fluttered through his falsetto, hitting improbably high notes; he played around with his exceptionally skilled bandmates —  Gil Goldstein on piano and accordion, Jeff Carney on bass and David Mansfield on slide guitar, fiddle and mandolin — challenging them with changes of key and speed. 

McFerrin jokingly asked if anyone in the crowd happened to have an extra trumpet, trombone... or a kazoo, which one woman, named Jody, actually did happen to have in her purse. He brought her up to the floor in front of the stage for a hilarious exchange that resulted in a Bobby/Jody, voice/kazoo duet. Not long after, he asked if any singers in the crowd wanted to do a duet; unsurprisingly, a small line quickly formed on either side of a seated McFerrin, legs dangling from the edge of the stage as he passed a microphone back and forth. It’s always nice when an artist really gets connected with fans, but this went on a little longer than it probably should have.

It wasn’t until a solid 20 minutes into the set when McFerrin sang his first unimprovised tune of the night, 1982’s Feline. He followed that with a cover of Van Morrison’s Moondance and a stunning rendition of Blackbird by the Beatles, both of which he infused with his own scatty style and the latter of which ended with a carefully executed audience sing-along.

After a bit of a self-imposed giggle fit, McFerrin stumbled his way into a "politically correct tune," He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, that had the whole crowd laughing along with him yet again.

As an encore, McFerrin returned to answer a handful of audience questions, but did not play Don’t Worry, Be Happy, which was perhaps the funniest part of the whole night.

McFerrin’s performance style isn’t clean, and it isn’t precise, but it’s fun and full of love, and sometimes that’s worth just as much.

Winnipeg roots duo Leaf Rapids started the night off in a similar vein. The married pair of Keri and Devin Latimer were joined by guitarist Chris Dunn and Joanna Miller on drums, creating a tight four-piece who impressed the crowd with a hilarious and heartfelt set.

Keri is sharp in both her banter and her songwriting, taking time between tracks to tell stories that continued to unfold in her lyrics; the one about Virginia, who packs her kids lunches in liquor store bags; the one about her family members, who were in Japanese internment camps; the "love song" about two lovers who get killed by vultures; the one about her great-grandmother, who stabbed a lumberjack in the thigh. Her wonderfully dark sense of humour shines through in all.

Both Latimers (and their bandmates) are veterans of the Winnipeg music scene, so it goes without saying their musical and vocal performances were right on point. Somehow, though, it was Leaf Rapids’ first time playing the Burt, but they seemed right at home on the theatre’s iconic stage, especially when being ushered off of it with a standing ovation.

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us