Prom 32: Bobby Mcferrin & Friends, Royal Albert Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

This came most notably from McFerrin himself, who, though he can have been on stage for barely half the time, wove his magic effortlessly. His achievements in eliciting remarkably eager and high-quality audience participation were totally without any embarrassment on either side.

Most important of all, McFerrin's solo vocal style is a miracle of contrasts in character and timbre, while his contrapuntal ingenuity sustains musical interest in each combination of melodic line and accompaniment well beyond its immediate "circus-trick" value. And he evidently mesmerised the two-dozen-strong African Children's Choir into seemingly improvised antics, with touching and witty results.

This choir of South African Aids orphans [the latest of many African children's choirs formed by Ray Barnett] offered their own sets at the beginning of each half, irresistible in the joy evident in their singing, drumming and dancing. An American quartet, Impure Thoughts, headed by the keyboard player Michael Wolff, brought some relaxed mainstream-style jazz, spiced with the sensitive tabla playing of Badal Roy. Though some of their joint efforts with McFerrin and the choir were a mite obvious, a duo between McFerrin and Roy cunningly exploited the vocal and instrumental connections between their two styles.

And the quartet backed McFerrin's flights of imaginative fantasy with unobtrusive skill, while Wolff proved an adept improviser in the engaging finale, in which everyone joined.

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