If the goal is to have an unforgettable experience with an audience that occurs in the now and that takes people places that they’ve never been before, then Orchestra Hall has arranged something extra special for music lovers this weekend.
Pianist Ramsey Lewis along with guitarist John Pizzarelli take the stage on Friday, April 18 at 8 pm to perform a special Nat King Cole tribute, and vocalist Bobby McFerrin performs with his band that includes his daughter, vocalist Madison McFerrin, on Saturday, April 19 at 8 pm.
Both Grammy Award-winning artists, Lewis and McFerrin enjoy ever-evolving careers and music making that continues to attract diverse audiences around the globe. They have also, in their own distinct ways, altered the musical landscape with their unmatched virtuosity and masterful creativity for decades.
Lewis, a Chicago native, is well-known for his 1974 hit song, “Sun Goddess,” while McFerrin, who hails from New York City — and is no stranger to the Twin Cities music community — has his own hit song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” that is also quite popular. Both men share that rare ability to successfully bridge the physical, intellectual, and spiritual with a perfection that touches people.
John Pizzarelli is also world-reowned, mostly for his jazz guitar and vocal skills. He recorded the album, Dear Mr. Cole, which features renditions of Cole’s most famous songs. His father is the beloved guitarist and banjoist Bucky Pizzarelli.
At the Lewis and Pizzarelli engagement, the audience will likely hear the classic tunes, “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “Nature Boy,” and “Mona Lisa,” to name a few. However, come Saturday, McFerrin will present music from his newest album, spirityouall, a mix of old and new spirituals, such as historic Negro spirituals “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” and McFerrin originals “Gracious,” and “Jesus Makes It Good.” His trademark vocals along with his inventive percussive techniques will no doubt uplift concertgoers as he presents music that he says his father, an operatic baritone, enjoyed.
In a recent interview with DownBeat magazine, McFerrin talked about some of his most powerful listening and collaborative experiences, which came out of the jazz tradition. He also talked about his own mission that is less about genre and technical virtuosity, and more about freedom, communicating, and of course, making things up.
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