A photo of Al Jarreau singing.
credit: Jasper De Boer / Wikimedia Commons
The internationally beloved American Jazz, R&B, soul and pop musician passed away at age 76 on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017.

 


 

Al Jarreau was one of the greatest performers of all time. I can remember watching one of his performances when he did a rendition of “Take Five.” The way he imitated the instrument by scatting it was breathtaking!

Seeing Al sing — whenever he opened his mouth — would bring such wonderment. Other favorites he did were “Burst in With the Dawn,” “Spain,” and “Mornin’” and “We Got By.”

“Letter Perfect” was one of his best, but I could go on and on. As far as I am concerned, all of his songs were the best, especially “Spain” performed live. He will be missed, but his music will live on. Go on YouTube and check it out.

Leonard Hyater


 

I’ve enjoyed listening to this guy for 40 years and I never realized how long it was, nor how incomparable he was, until the day of his Earthly departure. He was always one of my favorite singers and entertainers! He composed, produced and danced. His voice was that of a one-man combo. No male singer reached his level of versatility.

This last scheduled tour, for me, reflects the highs and lows of his vocal range:

I was looking up and forward to his 2017 D.C. appearance, then low and saddened to learn of his illness. High and delighted to learn that he’d still be coming to town. That show was going to be my gift to me. My reward for surviving a horrible holiday season

Suddenly low when, at age 76, he announced his retirement from touring due to his illness. Lower still as I learned of his death.

Al Jarreau to me is the male jazz vocalist equivalent to the Emperors Mike (Jackson and Jordan) — only more so!

That is to say, G-O-A-T. Greatest Of All Time.

Two very different stars of very different skill sets.

You can compare Prince, James Brown, Usher, and a few others to Michael Jackson. Kobe Bryant, Julius Erving, Magic Johnson and LeBron James could be contenders to Jordan. But who would you stand up against Al Jarreau?

Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry Be Happy”) and Jon Hendricks (of Hendricks, Lambert, & Ross)? No thanks.

While these vocalists personified excellence, they don’t legitimately come close to Al. He was measures (no pun intended) ahead. Jon Hendricks was one of his influences. Al had different talents.

And that’s what life is really all about: using what we have to do our best and caring in the process.

It’s not that he or anyone else was better or more talented. Al Jarreau took HIS unique gifts and propelled himself to the highest known level in his profession: Legend.

I, for one, believe it will be generations before there is another like him. Please enjoy the above sampling I curated of his work, some of my favorites, in tribute to Al. Thank you.

Ken Martin