Taylor McFerrin

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taylor-mcferrin-2-1600Some might scoff at the term “contemporary jazz,” but this genre (I’d describe it as a fusion of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music) is beginning to come into its own. Last night I got a chance to see Taylor McFerrin, and yes that name should sound familiar, he is the son of this McFerrin. No doubt a much more creative musician than his father.

McFerrin is a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, keyboards, a slew of synthesizers, and most interestingly, his own voice. One might think the skill of beat-boxing is trivial. After seeing McFerrin flawlessly improv with himself last night at length, I would beg to differ. Accompanying him on stage was drummer Marcus Gilmore, who on both tracks for the album “Early Riser” and jam moments was agile and inventive. The highlight of the performance was when vocalist Madison McFerrin (his sister) and pianist César Mariano joined the other McFerrin and Gilmore for a delightful cover of Sergio Mendes’ “Mas Que Nada.”

Taylor McFerrin and the other music released by the Brainfeeder label, might not be for everyone. But if you are trying to convince some younger relations that jazz is still very much relevant, “Early Riser” may be a good place to start. Based on the diverse crowd at Rough Trade in Brooklyn last night, I would venture to say that jazz is not only still relevant, but perhaps some of the most compelling music being produced today. For more like Taylor McFerrin I would recommend Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington and Thundercat.

Shannon Thomas

 

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