More bad news – this time, the passing of Al Jarreau, who died suddenly after announcing his retirement from touring only two weeks earlier. Winner of a string of Grammys, Jarreau crossed over into numerous genres – achieving huge popularity in the area of Pop and R&B, he nonetheless maintained strong ties with his first love; Jazz.
Arriving at a full-time musical career at age 30, he won instant attraction from audiences for his vocal style and his gift for improvisation which took on a vast array of nuances and vocalizations from clicks and growls to instrumental sounds.
It was his highly personal style and intense interest in so many areas of music that really defied being pinned down to any one genre. Going effortlessly from Pop and R&B and Latin to Jazz to even recording a Children’s Album, the Grammy winning “In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record”. It was that versatility which made it possible for him to perform at such a diverse range of festivals as the Montreux Jazz Festival and Rock in Rio.
This concert, one of several he did during one of his many European tours, comes early on in his career; newly signed with Warner Brothers, he plays a studio gig at the Rolf-Liebermann Studio of North German Radio to plug his debut album, We Got By. It was preserved for posterity by NDR and offers a glimpse into the multi-faceted talent that Al Jarreau so effortlessly possessed.
I am hoping 2017 doesn’t turn out to be as shocking and dismal in the area of musical loss as 2016 was – although the signs are not hopeful. Losing Al Jarreau at 76 is still too young for an artist of his style and mass appeal to leave. We can only be comforted in the knowing his talent was enjoyed by millions and his albums will be around for a very long time to come. Although, starting today it means looking back as opposed to looking forward – because it stopped today.
RIP: Al Jarreau (March 12, 1940 – February 12, 2017).
Here’s a reminder – enjoy.