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Photo by Basim Boulos

Andrew Sinclair and Ben Taaffe/Mei Saraswati

The Bird

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Red Bull Music Academy put on another sweet night of free live music, with Taylor McFerrin headlining. The Brooklyn musician was making his second trip to Australia since November and only his second to Perth since 2012.

Supporting Taylor McFerrin were RTR’s Andrew Sinclair and Ben Taaffe; and local girl Mei Saraswati. Andrew and Ben spun together some recent soul and fusion records before Mei pulled out some of her newer jams and a couple of “old guys” along with some delightful light commentary along the way. She also petitioned a decree to make it commonplace to greet a crowd with “Hey girls” instead of the more commonly used “Hey guys” although the latter is arguably more unisex than the former.

Taylor McFerrin was equipped with a keyboard, a smaller synthesiser and an MPC40 and began simply with the first track of his acclaimed record, last years’ Early Riser: Postpartum. After elaborating and getting funkier on some of his album tracks, McFerrin took an intermission of beatboxing, arguably his first love, to perform his live-only special, I Was On My Way to See You, much to the pleasure of all in attendance. Continuing on, he threw props at some his collaborators on the album before dishing out the respective track such as those with Brainfeeder friend Thundercat and Robert Glasper as well as Emily King and of course his legendary dad Bobby McFerrin although sadly only an indistinct hint of his work with Nai Palm.

McFerrin made request at one point for any volunteer hip-hop heads that would be willing to join him on stage to spit on some freestyled rhythms. Amongst the shyness of the crowd, a seemingly tame young man named Henley took to the microphone and waited for some time after the beat was rocking to get in to it but it was worth the wait as he delivered some of the hardest bars of any volunteer audience member in history. Henley had the whole place vibing to his flow and repeated his name at the end which would make one think that he must have some jams of his own somewhere so keep an ear out for the young emcee.

Taylor McFerrin continued with some more improvised melodies which took a darker, harder sound than what we’ve heard from him in the past. He hinted on a couple of occasions that he has a new album on the way and the second time, someone heckled the question of “when?” to which Taylor replied “I don’t know. Hopefully you’ll have it next spring.” which I’m sure left some wanting the heckler to ask if it that meant our spring or the spring of the Northern hemisphere. Regardless, keep an ear out for new goodies from Taylor McFerrin this year. He finished up with relatively loud hard hitters Stepps and Pls Dnt Lstn before some peaceful keys to see off the evening. Cheers for everything T-Mac!


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