The reality of my physical condition is such that my stream of consciousness has suffered...
...That's the only way I can explain how I managed to miss completely the fact that my favorite jazz singer passed away more than a month ago.
Let me explain. I am battling so many maladies, one of my daily realities is very strong prescription pain medications, which can affect my congnitive skills. And since we disconnected cable TV 3 years ago, we no longer have an unending stream of the 24-hour news cycle permeating our home life.
But When the subject is the passing of Al Jarreau, I wish I had gotten that memo. Al Jarreau was my instant favorite when I first played his hit single "We're in this Love Together" in the summer/fall of 1981. I was almost 19 years old. I was immediately bowled over by Jarreau's talent.
I was renting a room from my aunt and uncle in Anchorage, Alaska. I was a disc jockey, and managed to "borrow" a copy of Al Jarreau's album, "Breakin' Away". I didn't steal the record, but I did dub it to HQ CRO2 cassette, and I proceeded to wear that tape out.
Al Jarreau was a jazz phenom. His scat-ability was remarkable, and easy to hear on songs like Roof Garden, and "Blue Rondo ala Turk". I was instantly a fan. But Jarreau, in spite of winning 7 Grammy awards, never got the critical acclaim in pop that he should have.
And it was painful to see on YouTube the stupid young TV news anchors, including one of Fox News, tha actually mispronounced his name while announcing his death. I was so pissed when I heard this brainless idiot on Fox News repeat his mispronunciation at least 3 or 4 times. His name was not Al Ja-rooo. It was Al Jarreau...as-in Jah-ROWE, you stupid moron!!!!
I might have forgiven this mistake had it been any other singer, but Al Jarreau was the best living jazz singer on the planet. If you have never heard his live performance of the old Dave Brubeck hit "Take Five", you have not truly lived. It is pure jazz genius. If you find the 1976 version, where he is wearing a red shirt, you will see the master in his prime.
Al Jarreau was not an overnight success. He was in his early 40's before most people had ever heard his name. He did appear in the 1977 movie "The Wiz" with Michael Jackson and Dianna Ross, but until his breakthrough "Breakin' Away" album in 1981, only afficionados knew who he was.
Jarreau was a native of Milwakee, Wisconsin and worked at a brewery before his musical career became his full-time calling. He had monster hits in the 1980's with songs like "Monin' and "After All". He also sang the theme song for they late 80's dramedy "Moonlighting" with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.
But for me, I will always be that wide-eyed 19-year-old, listening to Jarreau through my hi-fi with the Quadrophonic amplifier and my amazing JBL Decade 36L speakers. The kind that shake the needle off the turntable. It didn't get any better than that.
I was truly pained when I learned of Jarreau's passing early this morning. I wish I had known sooner. But I felt I should at least pay a tribute to the man, whose talent was surpassed by his joy-giving spirit and his deep belief in God, and his willingness to encourage, inspire, and help shape young people in the city to aspire to live up to their God-given talents.
Al Jarreau was as amazing as any jazz singer in my lifetime, and that is saying something since I include Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Ella Fitzgerald.
I hope I get to meet him in Heaven. I am pretty sure he will be singing there, too. Rest in peace, Al Jarreau. Thank you for sharing your remarkable gift with us.