Many singers come and go, but there aren’t many that can lay claim to the amount of influence Al Jarreau had in multiple genres of music. But with as much of a musical giant that Jarreau was, he remained one of the most humble and down-to-earth people around, and a had a very gracious soul.
In high school, many of my friends got their first taste of Al Jarreau singing the theme to Moonlighting each week on ABC. At the time, I had just abandoned pop music and had devoted all my listening to jazz, and in particular KKGO-FM 105.1. Al released his album Heart’s Horizon in 1988, and the song “So Good” featuring David Sanborn was getting all the airplay on the radio. As a big Sanborn fan, I had to buy what became the first Jarreau album in my collection. To this day it remains one of my favorite Jarreau tracks.
Al was instrumental in helping me to bridge the gap between contemporary and mainstream jazz. In addition to his own signature performances of jazz standards, I fondly remember his performance as Miles Davis on Freddie Freeloader from Jon Hendricks and Friends.
One of the greatest nights of my life was 12 years ago when The Slaw Dawgz got to perform with Al Jarreau. Al was such a gracious man and of course, he sang his ass off. But what amazed me was how much his presence on stage raised the quality of our game. Al went so far as to put into motion the development of a 3-city mini tour where we would be backing up both he and Kathleen Battle, but alas, that was derailed when he got involved with another tour with George Benson
Today, I’m very saddened to learn of his passing. Thank you, Al, for teaching me that I can be what I want to and all I need is to get my boogie down. Thank you to Nick Scarmack for arranging the opportunity for us to play with Al, and to Gail Enriquez for being there 12 years ago to witness it and capture it all on film. RIP Al Jarreau.