Al Jarreau‘s unique vocal style is one of the world’s most precious treasures. His innovative musical expressions have made him one of the most exciting and critically-acclaimed performers of our time with seven Grammy® Awards, scores of international music awards and popular accolades worldwide. It’s not surprising that he has perfected his technique to such an art. After all, he has been singing since the age of four, harmonizing with his brothers and performing solo at a variety of local events in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Al found himself performing at a small jazz club with a trio headed by George Duke, and by the late 60s, he knew without a doubt that he would make singing his life. Relocating to Los Angeles, he began his apprenticeship in such famed nightspots as Dino’s, the Troubadour and the Bitter End West. Shortly thereafter, he branched out to New York City as well, where he gained national network television exposure.
In 1975, Warner Bros. Records signed Al to a recording contract. His debut album for the label, We Got By, was released to unanimous acclaim. It was a reception that spread across the continent and over the Atlantic when Jarreau was awarded a German Grammy for Best New International Soloist that same year. Al’s career breakthrough came in 1977 when Warner Brothers Records released Look to the Rainbow, his live double album, which was culled from his first world tour from that same year, and earned the vocalist his first GRAMMY® for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. His fourth album, All Fly Home, was released in 1978 to further accolades and a second Grammy for Best Jazz Vocalist. It was followed by a string of innovative and original offerings, including 1980’s This Time, and the million-selling Breakin’ Away, which brought him a broader audience and two more Grammy‘s with awards for Best Male Pop Vocalist and Best Male Jazz Vocalist.
In 1983, Jarreau was released, followed closely the following year by High Crime. Both albums spawned a string of R&B and pop hits, and further cemented him as an international superstar. Al Jarreau- Live in London continued to solidify Jarreau’s reputation as a world-class master of both studio and stage. Following the live album, Jarreau teamed with top producer Nile Rodgers for L Is for Lover. With hardly time to take a breath, he launched into the recording of Heart’s Horizon, which earned him another GRAMMY® nomination, this time for Best R&B Album. After touring the globe for nearly two years, he returned to the studio – the result was 1992’s Heaven and Earth for which he received his fifth GRAMMY® for Best R&B Vocal Performance. With this, he became one the rare artists to have won GRAMMY’S® in the three categories of jazz, pop, and R&B.
In 1994, Tenderness was released, followed by Tomorrow Today in 2001, his GRP Records debut. Al Jarreau received his own Star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame”, in March 2001, commemorating his status as one of the best singers of his generation. His next album, All I Got was released in 2002, and followed on by the GRAMMY® nominated Accentuate the Positive in 2004.
Time Magazine called him ‘the greatest jazz singer alive’ and a successful career that lasted over 30 years illustrates perfectly the reason why. Al continues to tour extensively worldwide, with his sextet and Symphony shows.
Al Jarreau passed away at a Los Angeles hospital early Sunday (February 11) morning. The singer leaves behind his wife, Susan and his son, Ryan. He was 76.
Enjoy the smooth sounds of Al Jarreau, may the music live on.