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Vocabularies Import

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To some people, Bobby McFerrin will always be the guy who sang Don’t Worry Be Happy. And he is that guy; he wrote and sang that global number one hit more than twenty years ago. But if that song is all you know about Bobby McFerrin, we suggest the following: Go to YouTube, type in Bobby’s name, sit back and prepare for a serious boggling of the mind.
There you’ll find many ... Read more in Amazon's Bobby McFerrin Store

Visit Amazon's Bobby McFerrin Store
for 29 albums, 10 photos, discussions, and more.

Product details

  • Audio CD (2 April 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Emarr
  • ASIN: B00303WR3M
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 537,669 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Baby
2. Say Ladeo
3. Wailers
4. Messages
5. The Garden
6. He Ran To The Train
7. Brief Eternity

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By David G on 2 May 2010
Format: Audio CD
Heard a brief snatch of the album on the radio and was intrigued.
As one who generally ignores vocal content and prefers harmonies, this album gets increasingly better on each play. Must be heard through good headphones or centrally in a sound system to get maximum benefit.
Each track has its own style and have even now read the lyrics which adds to the whole listening experience.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. E. G. Taylor on 1 May 2010
Format: MP3 Download
Really taken by his music. Something different. a very talented man. great to listen to and watch. Gayle Force , clairvoaynt/medium/healer in Cornwall
Even better amazon had the album ready to go.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 52 reviews
78 of 78 people found the following review helpful
McFerrin's Masterpiece 13 April 2010
By Brian Whistler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Over the course of a career spanning three decades, Bobby McFerrin has worn many hats. From fronting his band on his debut album, to the pyrotechnics of his amazing live solo performances, his choral work with Voicestra, duos with Chick Corea and Yo Yo Ma, (not to mention simultaneously singing with and conducting symphony orchestras,) McFerrin has demonstrated a restless and far ranging musical intelligence which is constantly in search of new musical turf to explore.

Seven years in the making, "Vocabularies" is certainly the most ambitious McFerrin project to date and may very well be his magnum opus. For it is on this album that virtually all of McFerrin's wide-ranging musical interests are brought together in perfect balance. In a way, all of McFerrin's prior output has led up to this moment, the realization of a lifetime of artistic achievement.

I have always felt that the one thing missing from McFerrin's writing was the ability to take his fresh ideas and fully develop them harmonically and compositionally. Fortunately for all of us, McFerrin has found the perfect collaborator in composer/arranger and conductor, Roger Treece, whose prodigious gifts give McFerrin's ideas the harmonic and developmental lift they so deserve. The two worked together closely, first gathering McFerrin's ideas from past albums, recorded improvisations etc, weaving them into substantial compositions that average about 10 minutes in length.

Each piece is a journey unto itself, in which African, Eastern European, jazz, Western classical, R&B and pop elements bump up against each other, blending and recombining in a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of harmony and rhythm. Singers were brought together from various disciplines including world, classical and R&B to form a versatile virtual choir, facilitating the ability to create unprecedented choral timbres. I'm told that there were over 1400 vocal tracks in all. Lyrics were written in everything from Arabic to Zulu, comprised of 15 languages. While there are moments of Bobby's signature playful improvisations, for the most part the album is comprised of through composed music.

Superficially, this album hearkens back to the vocal complexities of Medicine Music, one of Bobby's most satisfying efforts, in which he overdubbed his voice to create an a cappella chorus which employed a minimum of percussion to augment the grooves. In a way, " Vocabularies" is a sort of "Medicine Music" on steroids. In fact three of the seven tracks on this album are re-workings of songs off of that album. But it's as though they've gone from black-and-white to color, from animated short to epic film. Consider the opening track, "Baby." Conceived as an innocent nursery rhyme with an African folk feel in its original form, here it is turned into a convoluted harmonic maze, constantly modulating and playfully cavorting, yet always returning to its original motif and key. The result is a feeling of expansive and deep childlike joy that is the hallmark of McFerrin's best work. Throughout the album, McFerrin's voice can be heard weaving and ducking, sometimes coming to the foreground for a moment, but the focus on this outing is clearly on the compositions, not Bobby's virtuosity.

Other highlights include "Say Ladeo," a joyous romp with an infectious chorus that comes as close to a pop tune as anything gets on the album. It's a pretty thing that would be a pleasure to hear on the radio, although in this day and age it is unlikely that a gorgeous a cappella confection such as this will hit the top 40 (as "Don't Worry, Be Happy" once did,) even in the pared down version found on YouTube.

Another surprise is the elegiac "Brief Eternity", the album's closer. It is a serious piece of Western classical music, supported here by string orchestra, winds and harp. Treece's impressionistic orchestration evokes Debussy's Nocturnes, especially "Sirenes", occasionally bringing to mind contemporary composer John Tavener's chorale sonorities. A spiritual longing permeates this lush piece, rising to quiet ecstasy in its satisfying finale.

The most profound piece for this listener is "Messages," a tour de force which effortlessly serves up elements of Eastern European, Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Western classical in a rich contrapuntal stew, seasoned with odd meters and exotic percussion. It is in this sophisticated composition that one begins to hear what may be a glimpse into the future of music in the 21st century, a future in which separate world music traditions come together as equals, each having its own unique voice, blending into a unified chorus in perfect harmony.

Considering the state of the world today in which civil discourse is becoming archaic, a world in which nations squabble with one another like ill tempered children, where the heart of barbarism still shapes the body politic in many parts of the world, Bobby McFerrin has given us a profound vision of a utopian society in which all members are respected and valued, a future where beauty and peace reign supreme.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Powerhouse choral music 12 April 2010
By David Reiley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Bobby McFerrin is a musical genius, and this album continues to demonstrate that fact. His compositions and improvisations go beyond what anyone previously thought the human voice could do. Relative to the previous albums I've heard by him (Circlesongs, Beyond Words), this one has fuller orchestrations and a much larger chorus. I'm reminded of Bach, Mozart, and Manhattan Transfer, mixed with joyous African rhythms and harmonies (think Lion King) and scat singing. McFerrin's own solo vocals feature his clear, flutelike falsetto.

Listen to this album, but also make sure to watch clips of McFerrin's vocal improvisations on YouTube. Better yet, try to see him in concert. We saw his live performance last night in San Francisco, and it knocked our socks off. His musical improvisation reminds me a bit of Robin Williams playing the genie in Aladdin - the performance is eclectic, eccentric, surprising, joyous, virtuosic and beautiful. Kudos to McFerrin for finding his amazing voice, creating something entirely new, and moving us to pure ecstasy with his music.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Bobby McFerrin's VOCAbuLarieS! 9 May 2010
By MRC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant vocal album. The arrangements by Bobby McFerrin and Roger Treece are stunning. The time and effort put into making this project come to life brings wonderful rewards for the listeners. The sound quality is amazing. Hearing these voices sing these arrangements is thrilling. The level of excellence in their intonation and musicianship is inspiring. I would recommend this recording to anyone in music education at any level. I would recommend this to anyone who simply enjoys the sound of the human voice. This CD has passion, commitment to excellence, and pure musical joy.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Thoughtprovoking CD 3 April 2012
By Patricia A. Lodge-sykes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In this age where rap artists are hyped and musicians are over analyized the music is the only thing that matters. Bobby is a first rate musician and his talent shows itself in this CD.

We all know of artists who take a theme or motif that they have been working on and continue to refine and redefine it. This is what Bobby has done on this masterpiece. He took a few songs from earlier CDs and gave them an extended arrangement. Several of the songs start out with a certain theme and then go through several movements, as classical artisits used to do. We now live in an age where this type of long range artistic planning, in most current genres of music, is seldom orchestrated. We have lauded artists in the past for doing the same. Why should Bobby be knocked for bringing this type of artistry back.

I can understand how this can seem disconcerting to a lot of folks when you consider the fact that this is not classical music. I would not label every song on this album as jazz either. Despite my inability to give this type of music a label, I enjoyed the different moods each song took. When I listened to each piece without judgement, it put me in a calmer, more thoughtfull mood than most of the standard 3 and 4 minutes pop songs I listen to.

I applaud Bobby for doing what was in his heart. He has taken his love of arranging and his background as a jazz artist and combined them in this CD with little regard, thank goodness, for what type of music this CD would be labeled as. I think labels are overrated anyway. But this CD cannot be. This is a consummate artist expressing himself and I consider myself fortunate to have this CD in my collection.

PS: The lyrics are uplifting and hauntingly beautiful as well. Guidelines
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Neo-chantical Masterpiece 22 May 2010
By Rick Cornell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
How stunning is this disc?

Put this disc into your c.d. changer, and press it to track 7, "Brief Eternity." Now, picture this scenario: You have been battling cancer for a year. You have finally reached the end, where you don't drink, you don't eat, and your grip on life has reached the subconscious terminus. As you feel your spirit going to the light, as you begin to climb Jacob's ladder, imagine this as the music you hear.

Needless to say, buy this c.d. for that track alone.

Yet, what that track really is is the final exclamation point on what is a choral masterpiece.

In the period of 1986-1998 or so, Bobby McFerrin was one of the finest working jazz singers in the world. Although the pop culture knows him for probably the most annoying one-hit wonder ever, "Don't Worry Be Happy," the rest of the world knew him as one with an incredible vocal range and even more incredible imagination. For all the great work he did during that time frame, my favorite album by far was "Medicine Music." There, Bobby McFerrin multi-tracked his voice and created a chant that was an intoxicating blend of swing, classical, and African elegy that was both unique and intoxicating.

Then, McFerrin left the performing world for a brief while and explored the world of classical music in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This is his first recording in 8 years, but it's a showcase for him as conductor and arranger more than as singer. With the incredible efforts of singer, arranger and co-producer, Roger Treece, he (they) have created a choral masterpiece. It is an extension of "Medicine Music," but with even more layers of sound and more complexities. Hence, I call it "neo-chantical."

And they have reprised and recast 3 of the best songs from "Medicine Music" -"Baby" (track 1), "The Garden" (track 5) and "He Ran (before "All the Way," now "To the Train," track 6), into multiple-layered, multiple-keyed and multiple tempi works of art.

Any recording with a chorus of singers such as those from The New York Voices, Moss and the Manhattan Transfer, just for starters, is bound to be special. But for the 50-voiced extravaganza this is, I could imagine an honor choir of a number of colleges with 100 or more voices doing an even more inspired rendition of this album under a baton such as Maestro McFerrin.

This c.d. is truly special. There just aren't enough stars in the universe to give it. I can't imagine what c.d. in 2010 will top it - and so far, this has been a pretty good year. RC

p.s.: 6/4/10 - I received the July 2010 issue of Down Beat, and was shocked. Their "big 4 critics" rate this between 2 and 3 and 1/2 stars. They use words and phrases like "bland arrangements," "ambiguously originated world music vibe," "unlistenable spiritual quest," "More a construction project than a performance," "a record that does seem to spill on and on and on," "off-putting," and "I know I'll never listen to this music again." I don't usually think of myself missing the boat that badly, but I guess according to these experts, I did. I've listened to this numerous times since writing my initial review, and I still think it's a masterpiece; but maybe the way to reconcile the divergent opinions is to say that it's a choral masterpiece, and Down Beat isn't very in to choral music. I do note that like me, Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times raved about this c.d. RC
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