With a four-octave range and a vast array of vocal techniques, Bobby McFerrin is no mere singer; he is music's last true Renaissance man, a vocal explorer who has combined jazz, folk and a multitude of world music influences - choral, a cappella, and classical music - with his own ingredients. As a conductor, Bobby is able to convey his innate musicality in an entirely different context. He has worked with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic.
With 1992's Hush, McFerrin shifted gears to team with acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma; the record remained on the Billboard Classical Crossover charts for over two years. The jazz release Play, a collaboration with pianist Chick Corea, appeared in 1992 as well. McFerrin returned to classical territory in 1995 with Paper Music, a collection of interpretations of works by Mozart, Bach, and Tchaikovsky recorded with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, (which he joined as Creative Chair a year prior). For 1996's Bang! Zoom he teamed with members of the Yellowjackets; a second collaboration with Corea, The Mozart Sessions, appeared later that same year. With 1997's Circlesongs, McFerrin returned to his roots, recording an entire album of improvised vocal performances. He then recorded a collaborative album of classical and jazz standards for Sony Music Special Products in 2001.
It teamed him with such esteemed musicians as Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. A year later, Blue Note released his Beyond Words album, McFerrin's first work for the label in nearly a decade. It featured a band comprised of Chick Corea, Richard Bona, Omar Hakim, Cyro Baptista, and Gil Goldstein. Supported by a choir, McFerrin released VOCAbuLarieS in 2010. spirityouall, released in the spring of 2013, was a tribute to McFerrin's father, Robert McFerrin, whose 1957 album Deep River brought black spirituals into the world of high art.
Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale, using audience participation, at the event "Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus".