The charismatic vocal style of virtuoso Bobby McFerrin exceeds the limits we usually find in music regardless of genre. His performance here captures the profound sensibilities generated by his predecessors as he is truly one of the greatest jazz vocalist and improvisers of our time. The Voice, his second album as a soloist ranked among the best recordings in the modern era as it served as springboard to sent his career into the hemisphere of stardom. I’m delighted to get re-engaged myself with this classic and take this gem on a weekend spin. —Rob Young | The Urban Flux
Bobby McFerrin -][- The Voice – [Elektra Musician (1984) Nonesuch, 1990]
The vocalist’s 1984 solo album has proven in many ways to be the blueprint for the iconoclastic career to come. Following his more mainstream debut, 1982’s Bobby McFerrin, The Voice is a daring idea: an unaccompanied, live solo vocal album. Although there’s little here that augers the explicit interest in classical music that would later be apparent, The Voice showcases McFerrin’s remarkable vocal abilities, unabashedly optimistic personality, and willingness to take risky ideas to their logical conclusion.
The son of opera singers, McFerrin is grounded in the vocalese style of King Pleasure, Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson, but is only nominally a jazz singer. Rather, his omnivorous interest in music becomes obvious here with covers of James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Duke Ellington’s “Take the A-Train,” and a medley that manages to incorporate both Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” and the Tin Pan Alley standard “We’re in the Money.” As a stylist, McFerrin makes bold use of effects to create a panoply of sounds that stands the notion of pop vocals on its head. —Fred Goodman
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