Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Footwear: Turtle Shoes

Bobby McFerrin: Turtle Shoes


Long before he crashed the Pop party with Don't Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin was a true-blue jazzman, pushing the envelope with innovative bodysound and a voice that could imitate pretty much any instrument. His second album, "The Voice", is notable for being the first jazz vocal album recorded without accompaniment or overdubbing; on Spontaneous Inventions, the primarily live and improvised third album on which today's track emerged, he pairs his four-octave range with the likes of Manhattan Transfer, soprano saxophonist Wayne Shorter, comedian Robin Williams, and Herbie Hancock (that's Herbie on piano in the track you hear here).

You may remember Bobby for his Grammy-winning earworm, but it's worth noting that he won five of his eight Grammys before that song was even recorded: four of them in the Vocal Jazz category, two of them alone for his work with Manhattan Transfer and scatman Jon Hendricks on Night in Tunisia from this 1985 release. Turtle Shoes may be short, but it's a masterpiece of slow jazz improvisation, a playful, slippery ditty on the back of a turtle's plodding, shod baseline. So stop saying "ick", and listen to the damn track already.

Bonus trivia points: McFerrin came from a seriously musical family; his father, operatic baritone Robert McFerrin Sr., provided the vocals for Sidney Poitier in the cinematic version of Porgy and Bess.


Divinyl said...

I'm seriously impressed with the picture! You are a Google Image Search master!

bwrice said...

I only have one album by Bobby McFerrin, and it's a classical album. It's seriously brilliant though. Check out a sample:

Minuet of Something Or Other

boyhowdy said...

Woah -- nice one, BWR. My favorite work of his after 1990 or so is actually his collaborative effort with Yo Yo Ma, which is mostly classical. Their work on Bach is especially impressive.

boyhowdy said...

Oh, and Divinyl: My grad school teachers would be SO happy to learn that I was primarily putting my mad re/search skills to use here...