Time again for another edition of World of Slick Music and this time it’s all about a legend a guy who pretty much can do anything with his voice and as the title tells you it’s the imcomparable Al Jarreau! He can like sing anything!! As far as i know he´s the only one to have won Grammy Award for best Soul/R&B, best Jazz and best Pop, how about that!! That´s a hard one to beat…
During his career he has not only sung the kind of genres i just mentioned but blues, gospel, latin yes pretty much everything. He can create all kind of sounds with his voice and once you heard it you know right away it´s him. Who is this dude then maybe someone wonders, yes the headline says a name but besides that? Let´s take it from the beginning, born as Alwin Lopez Jarreau in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1940.
Al at in 1954 at the age of 14.
Just like many other he began performing in the local church but he didn´t walked straight from the church to the music industry. He began to study at Ripon College and graduated in 1962 with a “Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology”. Later he went on to earn a “Master´s degree in vocational rehabilitation” at the University of Iowa. When it comes things that concerns the voice, how to speak, pronounce and so on i´d say he knows what he´s doing.
He moved to San Fransisco and worked there and also moonlightning with a jazz trio headed by a guy called George Duke. In 1967, he joined forces with acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez. The duo became the star attraction at a small Sausalito night club called Gatsby’s. This success contributed to Jarreau’s decision to make professional singing his life and full-time career. He kept on working and making his way through by appearances on diverse clubs in L.A., on diverse tv-shows during the late 1960:s and early 70:s. While working with pianist Tom Canning he got discovered by the major record company Warner Bros Records.
This happend in 1975 and the same year his first album “We got by” were released and gained some international fame and gave him a “German Grammy Award”.
He continued making albums throughout the rest of the 70:s but it wasn’t until 1981 with the album “Breakin’ Away” his major breakthrough came. The album contained the hit song “We´re in this love together” but also a big personal Al favorite, the title song.
Al wrote and performed the song “Moonlightning” for the 80:s tv-show with the same name. It was a kind of criminal show with some comedy undertones starring Bruce Willis and Cybil Sheppard. He got a grammy nomination for the song however this time he didn´t get one but during years to come hewould receive 7 GRAMMYS. He sang the line “….and so me must all lend a helping hand” on the song “We are the world” from 1985.
He stayed quite busy during the 1980:s and during that decade me wrote many of his most classic and famous songs. Then during the 1990:s he still released albums but not as many as before. He was collaborated with many different artists such as Stanley Clarke (bassist), Seawind, Sir Paul McCartney, Bette Midler (songtress), George Benson (guitarist), Eumir Deodato (pianist from Brazil), Miles Davis, to name only a few…as you realize the list is long! Anyway on March 6th 2001 he got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, see pic below.
Al is also well known for his scat song ability and kinda needless to say he has work with several singers, musicians in the industry. Personally i think Al is one of the best male singers there is what so ever but thats me. So finally what song have i picked by Mr Al Jarreau to introduce to you, this time the choice was easy thou he has made many great songs and albums.
The song is “Breakin’ Away ” from the album with the same name offcourse!
Updated: February 15 2017.
On the evening of Sunday February 13 Swedish time i when checking out Facebook i saw a post from the guitarist of Toto, Steve Lukather who send his condolences to the family of Al. This was like a shock to me! I was like say what! No way please let it be just another Facebook hoax but unfortunately it wasn’t. It was the sad truth he had left us for good to join the angeles in the heavenly choir. Al was an artist i wanted to experience live for many years but i didn’t got the chance. May you rest in peace Sir you’ll be greatly missed down here by your family, friends and fans. There will never be another like him he was truly one of a kind. If you just like me are friends with/following many musicians on Facebook needless to say it was the dominating topic on that Sunday.
According to all those who had the chance to work with him he was a true gentleman.A guy with lots of humour and as far from beeing a Diva you could possibly get. The last days i’ve been listening a lot to Al and had to create a playlist with his music on Spotify. In addition to his passing i’ll add one more song with Al. A song and album i somehow missed, don’t ask me why! I checked with my brother whom just like me also loves Al and he too had missed this album and he couldn’t believe he had missed it just like myself. Anyway it’s a song from 1980 from the album This Time and the song is called Distracted.
In June 2012, Jarreau was diagnosed with pnemunia, which caused him to cancel several concerts in France Jarreau made a full recovery and continued to tour extensively for the next 5 years until February 2017.
On February 8, 2017, after being hospitalized for exhaustion in Los Angeles Jarreau cancelled his remaining 2017 tour dates. He died of respiratory failure, at the age of 76, just two days after announcing his retirement.