It brings me great sadness that Milwaukee native and R&B and jazz singing legend Al Jarreau passed today.
He was scheduled to perform locally at the Genesee Theater in Waukegan on February 24th. It was just cancelled this past Wednesday as Al announced his retirement from touring due to poor health.
Man I loved his work, especially the theme to the 80’s ABC show “Moonlighting”, its one of my favorite songs.
Al was one of those guys who could sing the phone book and it would sound good. His voice was smooth but versatile, he didn’t even have a true genre, he was just Al and he didn’t sing he “sang”.
He was in that group of guys (George Benson, the late George Duke, etc.), in the late 70’s and into the 80’s who did chart topping R &B but then could croon serious jazz with the best of them.
I mean look at this list of hits from him and this is just from my personal collection.
The cover of the Chick Corea’s “Spain (I Can Recall)”, I mean that is such an iconic song for Chick and just out there and AL made it his own without tarnishing Chick’s work on it.
There is the jam “Roof Garden” which is R & B but Al’s has those jazz riff and vocals on it that make it such a great song.
Al specialized in just doing scat singing in a mainstream song and then come back and do R & B vocals, its in no better form than “Roof Garden”.
Al also was killer with the love songs like “We’re In This Love Together”, his rich voice, gracious flow and personalized style made you think is was singing to your or about you.
But its the rhythm and flow of “Mornin’ that shows off his range, that song always makes me feel good. I gotta thank Ed Dybas for years ago he pointed out to me how this song was so dynamic and I bought it on the spot on vinyl and it just sounds amazing.
From the Moonlighting TV Show soundtrack came both the title song and another memorable song “Since I Fell for You”, though the show as unmistakable 80’s with the fashion to boot, the music was timeless and carried so much meaning.
Its the ballads I think that separated Al from the other crooners of the time or ever, songs like “After All” & “Not Like This”. He took his time with the vocal and delivery and made those songs staples of his.
His mid tempo stuff was solid too, “I Will Be Here For You (Nitakungodea Milele)”, “Tell Me What I Gotta Do” & one of my faves ” Trouble in Paradise”.
Man “Trouble in Paradie” has been autobiographical in my relationships, it just speaks to me just as ” Tell Me What I Gotta Do” is such a “How To” instruction manual on getting to know a love interest.
I can go on and on about Al and how his songs influenced a generation of us guys and Al had a song for every situation, love status or just a good day.
Last but not least was his collaboration with so many jazz artists, too many to name but my favorite is off of “Boney” James (Oppenheim), Sweet Thing album was “I Still Dream”. It was the Boney’s riffs, the driving bass line and to top it off was Al’s signature vocals to make a sad love song sound so sweet.
And that’s what we have from Al, decades of sweet music that will never be forgotten.
Filed under: African American History