Master Composers: Al Jarreau Does Classy Move For A Friend

This is what you would have seen on March 3, 1985 from ABC:

That was Al Jarreau’s voice performing the theme song for the once popular series Moonlighting, which lasted a surprising four years before succumbing to–you guessed it, bad ratings.

Image courtesy of jazzchill.blogspot.com

Image courtesy of jazzchill.blogspot.com

Throughout the remarkable 47 year career of multi-Grammy Award winning artist Al Jarreau (who turns 75 on March 12), he gathered a bunch of his closest friends in the world of R&B and smooth jazz by releasing this really cool tribute album in autumn 2014.

The collaboration with George Duke began in the middle 1960’s, when Jarreau was earning his Master’s degree from the University of Iowa in vocational rehabilitation.  According to Wikipedia, he would subsequently work as a rehab counselor in San Francisco, and was able to moonlight with George Duke and his trio.

Over three decades has passed since many memorable jazz songs from the likes of “After All”, “We’re In This Love Together”, and “Boogie Down”.  Ironically enough, on one of Jarreau’s most famous albums, the 1981 release of Breakin’ Away–there it is on the second track, “My Old Friend.”  George Duke was the arranger and pianist on the album that would ninth in the USA Billboard Top 200 charts.

Gerald Albright does a rather suave version leading off this tribute album.  Dianne Reeves appears on a couple of tunes, “Someday” on Track 2 and a nearly five minute melody on Track 9 with “Brazilian Love Affair”/”Up From the Sea”/It Arose And Ate Rio in One Sweet Bite.”  Even Track 5 of “Sweet Baby” is beautifully done with the help of Lalah Hathaway assisting Jarreau on the key vocals.

But the best track IMHO was the fourth one, a Somebossa version of “Summer Breezin'” with Gerald Albright.  This version definitely hits all of the high notes, and then some!

The pace is steady, never slow nor tedious–just the right mix to either kick off your heels/shoes after a rough day or putting the top down en route to Spring Break or some area beach during those hot, summer months.

An even better reason to buy this album, the first three pages of the liner notes were penned by Al Jarreau himself.  No sugarcoating, just lots of groovy love and virtual kisses all the way around!

On the last page of this very special released by Concord Records, there is a special link where you can unlock bonus content.

Overall, a nice selection of songs as one jazz masters pays tribute to one of his greatest friends in the genre of jazz.

Next week, while the memories of the recent West Coast Port strike still slightly fresh in our minds with popular clothiers like Levi’s, Old Navy, and others patiently waiting for shipments to dock to other ports across the United States…I have just the album title for you.

The artist is Akira Jimbo and his album is simply titled, Slow Boat.

Look for that in your inbox next week.  Please have a good night, everybody.  Sure hope the ice storms are not as nasty again in the South, as the Midwest got their first taste of slightly glazed roads during the morning hours on Tuesday.

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