Al Jarreau, Versatile Vocalist Who ‘Played His Voice,‘ Dies At 76 Written by Livingston Contributor on December 7, 2019 Updated at 3 p.m. ET

God bless you my friend and mentor – I was never a vocalist that was my namesakes domain – but your vocal gymnastics combined with your impeccable music arrangements will always comfort me when I am in need.. thank you my Friend! Embrace the Muse when you arrive in heaven and do not start the 2nd show without me .. promise.

My experience with Al was always in a ‘backstage’ show situation with multiple people in and out paying their respects and never really having a chance to get to know him like I wanted and this was at a young age. But he was adamant about when it was time to cut off the “line” and deal with actual friends and family backstage. I was there for more than one of those times and it was magic. He didn’t know how to accept a compliment – when one was bestowed upon him he would immediately go to Thank you.. now “tell me about YOU; how have YOU been; what’s going on in YOUR life; who’s hero are you LATELY. How is family, how are YOU doing? “how many smiles have you brought to the world around you lately..”? AND HE MEANT IT AND EXPECTED AN ANSWER – IT WAS NOT AN IDLE QUESTION FOR CONVERSATION SAKE!

The other thing about Al.. he pushed himself and his voice to the limit “live on stage”. He would try new rhythms and vocal acrobats ‘ad lib’ and mostly they worked well but when they didn’t he would ‘cover’ for their missed target as if it was on purpose.. lol.

Al Jarreau, a versatile vocalist who defied categorization for decades, died Sunday morning at the age of 76. Earlier this week, Jarreau had been hospitalized in Los Angeles “due to exhaustion,” according to .

In a statement posted on the musician was lauded for his compassion and caring for those around him.

“His 2nd priority in life was music. There was no 3rd. His 1st priority, far ahead of the other, was healing or comforting anyone in need. Whether it was emotional pain, or physical discomfort, or any other cause of suffering, he needed to put our minds at ease and our hearts at rest.”

As an artist, Jarreau was impossible to define and had a voice impossible to mistake.

Since he recorded his first album in the 1960s, Jarreau demonstrated a vocal dynamism and flexibility that outpaced many of his peers — as can be seen in his track record at the Grammys. Jarreau won seven of them over the course of his career, becoming the only vocalist to win plaudits in the jazz, pop and R&B categories.

Even in his first album, recorded in 1965 with just a jazz piano trio, he was already breaking out the sliding and bending of notes that would eventually make him a favorite of jazz fans all over the world.

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A few years after releasing that album, Jarreau walked away from a career as a vocational rehab counselor with a degree in psychology. He spent his earliest years bouncing between San Francisco, New York and his native Milwaukee.

Four years after settling in Los Angeles in 1971, Jarreau was finally heard by the right people and was signed to Warner Brothers Records. He then released a string of albums that fell into a sweet spot between jazz, pop and R&B.

As NPR‘s Rose Friedman notes, “He was famous for his scat singing, using his voice like a musical instrument.” People magazine put it simply: “He doesn‘t so much sing as play his voice.”

Jarreau may have had a unique talent, but he also readily paid tribute to his influences — as he did in .

“I‘m touched by rock ‘n‘ roll. I‘m touched by the Beatles. I want some of the music I do to reflect that. Here I am. I love Sly Stone and James Brown and Stevie Wonder and I want my music to reflect some of that. Here I am. I‘m touched by Jon Hendricks. I want some of my music to reflect that. And when I write, you‘re going to hear it.”

Al Jarreau, Versatile Vocalist Who ‘Played His Voice,‘ Dies At 76

Al Jarreau is and always will be one of the greats! My favorite song by him was one I had already adopted before he made it a grammy award winning hit “Teach me Tonight”  – when I heard his version I immediately followed in his footsteps and molded mine to his.. song written by Sammy Cahn, songwriter extraordinaire – see below:

Cahn contributed lyrics for two otherwise unrelated films about the Land of Oz, Journey Back to Oz (1971) and The Wizard of Oz (1982). The former were composed with Van Heusen, the latter with Allen Byrns, Joe Hisaishi, and Yuichiro Oda.

Cahn became a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. He later took over the presidency of that organization from his friend Johnny Mercer when Mercer became ill.[7]

Lyric writing has always been a thrilling adventure for me, and something I’ve done with the kind of ease that only comes with joy! From the beginning the fates have conspired to help my career. Lou Levy, the eminent music publisher, lived around the corner and we met the day I was leaving my first music publisher’s office. This led to a partnership that has lasted many years. Lou and I wrote “Rhythm is Our Business,” material for Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra, which became my first ASCAP copyright. I’d been churning out “special lyrics” for special occasions for years and this helped facilitate my tremendous speed with lyric writing. Many might have written these lyrics better—but none faster! Glen Gray and Tommy Dorsey became regular customers and through Tommy came the enduring and perhaps most satisfying relationship of my lyric writing career – Frank Sinatra.[5]

Cahn wrote the lyrics to “Love and Marriage,” which was used as the theme song for the FOX TV show Married… with Children. The song originally debuted in a 1955 television production of Our Town, and won an Emmy Award in 1956. This was only one of many songs that Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote for Frank Sinatra. They were “almost considered to be his personal songwriters.”[6]”

This is the best version I could find on YouTube which is what the Music Industry has left us with to use and re-use – assholes that they are!!! 😠😡 Al also appeared on the album Freddie Freeload by Jon Hendricks with vocalists George Benson, Bobby McFarron, Al and Pops produced in 1990 on the Denon label with a cast of who’s who in Jazz.

Track listing[edit]

  1. Jumpin’ at the Woodside” (Count BasieJon Hendricks) – 3:31

  2. In Summer” (Hendricks, Bruno Martino) – 5:48

  3. Freddie Freeloader” (Miles Davis, Hendricks) – 9:09

  4. Stardust” (Hoagy CarmichaelMitchell Parish) – 3:55

  5. “Sugar” (Maceo PinkardStanley Turrentine) – 5:12

  6. Take the “A” Train” (Billy Strayhorn) – 3:04

  7. “Fas’ Livin’ Blues” (Hendricks) – 5:37

  8. “High As a Mountain” (Davis, Gil Evans, Hendricks) – 1:32

  9. “Trinkle Tinkle” (Hendricks, Thelonious Monk) – 4:46

  10. “Swing That Music” (Louis Armstrong, Horace Gerlach, Hendricks) – 2:55

  11. “The Finer Things In Life” (Hendricks) – 2:33

  12. “Listen to Monk” (Hendricks, Monk) – 6:36

  13. Sing Sing Sing” (Hendricks, Louis Prima) – 3:52


Count Basie Orchestra

  • Mark Lopeman – conductor

  • Kiyomitsu Mihara – design, cover design

  • Brian Lee – engineer, mixing

  • Chaz Clifton – engineer

  • Josiah Cluck

  • Geoff Gillette

  • Josiah Gluck

  • Howard Johnston

  • Stan Wallace

  • Takao Homma – executive producer

  • Hiroyuki Hosaka – mastering

  • David Berger – arranger, conductor

  • Frank Foster – arranger, tenor saxophone, vocal

Al’s official Obituary page here..

My favorite version of “Teach me Tonight” singer Al Jarreau lyricist Sammy Cahn.

Here’s one more song that was already in my repetoire before he did it – naturally I follow in style and nuance.

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