February 14, 2017

Al Jarreau, 1940-2017

The music world was surprised and saddened to learn of the passing of singer Al Jarreau on February 12. Mr. Jarreau was 76 at the time of his death, and had enjoyed a career spanning many decades, and recognition in the music world that included Grammy awards in three different categories.
While ostensibly a jazz singer, Al branched out into the pop and rhythm & blues world, and is mostly recognized for hits that spanned the late 70s and early 80s. These ear catching tunes included “We’re in this Love Together,” “Dancing in the Garden,” “Boogie Down,” and “Mornin’.” He benefited from collaboration with the best of producers and musicians, including Jay Graydon and studio ace drummer Steve Gadd.
Al had a particular talent for scat singing, and was an early purveyor of what we call “mouth percussion.” He was a fascinating singer to watch, as he used his vocal cavity (mouth, tongue, and jaw) and whole body to elicit unique vocal sounds.
Less heard on the radio but always a highlight of his live concerts were vocal versions of iconic jazz songs. When you start with material by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Chick Corea, you can hardly go wrong. So if you have a few minutes, check out this other side of Al Jarreau, with his versions of “Take Five,” “Blue Rondo á la Turk,” and “Spain.” He was the a one-of-a-kind talent who attracted many devotees.

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