The Incomparable Al Jarreau

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No matter how you slice it, Al Jarreau is one of the more exciting performers of our time. 

Known for his unique vocal style, the multi-Grammy winner who has netted Grammies in the categories of jazz, R&B, and pop respectively, recently joined forces with another great talent vocalist and guitarist George Benson.  The two are Givin’ It Up and taking their craft seriously via their collaboration on their latest CD, which features new arrangements on some of their old standards.

 “George and I go way back together.  I am not going to tell you how old we are.  Let’s just say we are over 45.” Jarreau mentioned while referring to his longtime friendship with George Benson. 

“I cannot tell you what a thrill it is for us to have this sense of creative accomplishment and validation at this juncture of our careers.   It’s really a thrill to be at the point wherein we were able to create moments so fresh and exciting via our new CD “Givin’ It Up.”  The music is fun to listen to and even made better by the opportunity to work with those who contributed on this album to make it a great recording,” remarked the songwriter and vocalist. 

“Jill Scott offered her talents, as did Paul McCartney. Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Chris Botti, Stanley Clarke, and Patti Austin added something of themselves to this album too.  It was this village of people who came and validated the importance of this record which gave it a kind of high watermark of achievement,” explained the esteemed performer. 

“Their participation served to authenticate the importance of this kind of music.  It’s classical really.  Classical in that so many well-known people came out of the woodwork; came out of their homes, and came to the meeting place and said, “Yes, I want to be part of this record.”  In a world filled with hip hop “Givin’ It Up” could be considered a classic” commented Jarreau earnestly.  “I mean even the blue haired ladies driving down the freeway surrender to hip hop.  That is all well and good but it’s also important to acknowledge that other forms of traditional music exist.  When these artists came out to work on this album, I think it was to say, “‘I want to be included in making that statement.’”

Already singing by age 4, Jarreau grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he excelled in sports. Although music was always a big part of his life, Jarreau attended Ripon College where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and later attended the University of Iowa where he planned to get a Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation.  In pursuit of his career, George moved to San Francisco where he got caught up in the club scene and eventually was bitten hard by his natural talent for singing and thus by the late 1960s, Al changed his career direction. 

He located to Los Angeles where he sang at Dino’s, the Troubadour and the Bitter End West.  He eventually moved east where he gained some notoriety.  Al was ultimately signed by Warner Bros. Records where his first album “We Got By” was released to wide acclaim.  “We Got By” earned him a German Grammy Award for Best New International Soloist. 

Then followed “Glow” which netted another German Grammy and finally in 1977, Mr. Jarreau, won his first American Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.  Further awards and kudos followed.  “Look For The Rainbow,” “All Fly Home,” “This Time,” “Breakin Away,” “High Crime,” “L is for Lover;” Heart’s Horizon” (included the song “So Good,” which won a  Grammy), “Tenderness,” and “Best of Al Jarreau,” were just some of the great classics counted amongst the singer’s hits.  “Heaven and Earth,” won Jarreau his fifth Grammy. 

“Early on, I won Grammys and I was grateful for that but I wasn’t necessarily making money,” recalled Al. However, with songs like “Breezin,” “Mornin,” “Summer Breeze,” “God Bless the Child,” “Ordinary People,” “Bring It On Home To Me,” and a new song entitled “Let It Rain,” “Givin’ It Up,” could be another Grammy contender.

“I hope those folks who like the music George and I make get behind it and shout about it so that interest in this style of music can be rekindled” stated Al. “I am so glad to be a part of this music.  It’s unusual how other music has been neglected and set aside in favor of the new flavor.  I support the success of some young brothers and sisters who are doing hip hop but it’s just unfortunate other types of music are not being recognized.  Profit is really the beast that we are railing against.  It’s the not very broad thinking of profit and profiteering that has some young performers thinking they need young gals thrusting their pelvis at them in order to get the message of their music across.  It suggests these performers need to be extreme and inflammatory in order to attract audience attention. Because of the profiteering, there is a kind of limited thinking, limited exposure.  Instead of offering campus students the opportunity to enjoy the philharmonic and other forms of music, the idea is to limit, rather than broaden the student’s horizon.  However, if there is no exposure to other forms of music how can young people know what’s out there?” inquired Al making a valid point. 

Monster Music, the newly created record division of Monster Cable Products, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-performance cable and power of home theater, etc., combined forces with Concord Music Group to use their considerable marketing and networking prowess to distribute the CD throughout all their retail networks and distribution channels.

“We are touring with the music.  People can come out to see two gentleman perform who are in love with each other and the music -- and ain’t nobody gay!” laughed Jarreau, tickled by his own sense of humor.  So, everybody…come on out and see us!”

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