Hello, everyone, and welcome to my page, where I can share with you all the goings on with me, as we travel around and bring the music to the people! Keep Listening!
Love, Al If you ever get to Tarrytown to visit relatives or have lunch while you’re passing through, find Charlene. You can’t miss her. The twinkling blue eyes of a Mrs. Claus. It was a clear, cold wintry noon when I stepped off the bus, and headed toward the stage door. It was as though she was counting my very steps from the bus to the stage door and threw it open wide with a smile and the warmest welcome that I’ve ever had at any stage door. This truly set the tone for what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon and evening at the Tarrytown Music Hall. Charlene’s coffee was wonderful, and she had bought some baked cookies and muffins from the bakery down the street who baked for President Obama and other celebrities. She did everything, except say, “And now presenting…” with such a delightful spirit that I found myself saying, “Let’s do this again next week.” It was obvious when you walked into the backstage area that this was a building that generations of workers had worked long and hard on preserving. Sparkling new performing arts centers are really great state venues, but there is something special about walking into a 150-year-old building where performers have been pouring out their hearts, and left their love and joy and tears saturating the walls. Amazing. The town was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and that afternoon you could hear a marching band of high schoolers practicing and warming up on the street just outside the back door of theatre. How fitting and appropriate… I told the audience how much I’ve always loved the name of their town Tarrytown. It’s right out of Disney Land. But it’s only a half an hour from downtown Manhattan just across the Hudson. There were people who knew me from Radio City Music Hall… in New Jersey PAC. AND Barry Eastmond, producer, and family, made it even more special. We did music for the, “Tomorrow Today” record in his Tarrytown studio. Close and intimate, we did a long intermission program. New music, old music, loud music, soft music, “L is for Lover,” to “We Got By,” to “Heart’s Horizon,” and “Scootchabooty.” And, “Put It,” and “Roof Garden.” The whole enchilada. And there was an ex-hockey player from Russia here tonight. He says I inspired him to do music, and he’s still doing it now. Thank you to my amazing band that continues to play with inspired freshness. Audiences are awed. Thank you Tarrytown, I’m Disney-fied anew. See you in Westport, CT, and Basel, Switzerland. Everyday is Thanksgiving. Love, Al
- posted ON 04.9.13 AT 12:03 AM
If you ever get to Tarrytown to visit relatives or have lunch while you’re passing through, find Charlene. You can’t miss her. The twinkling blue eyes of a Mrs. Claus.
It was a clear, cold wintry noon when I stepped off the bus, and headed toward the stage door. It was as though she was counting my very steps from the bus to the stage door and threw it open wide with a smile and the warmest welcome that I’ve ever had at any stage door. This truly set the tone for what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon and evening at the Tarrytown Music Hall.
Charlene’s coffee was wonderful, and she had bought some baked cookies and muffins from the bakery down the street who baked for President Obama and other celebrities. She did everything, except say, “And now presenting…” with such a delightful spirit that I found myself saying, “Let’s do this again next week.”
It was obvious when you walked into the backstage area that this was a building that generations of workers had worked long and hard on preserving. Sparkling new performing arts centers are really great state venues, but there is something special about walking into a 150-year-old building where performers have been pouring out their hearts, and left their love and joy and tears saturating the walls.
Amazing. The town was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and that afternoon you could hear a marching band of high schoolers practicing and warming up on the street just outside the back door of theatre.
How fitting and appropriate… I told the audience how much I’ve always loved the name of their town Tarrytown. It’s right out of Disney Land. But it’s only a half an hour from downtown Manhattan just across the Hudson. There were people who knew me from Radio City Music Hall… in New Jersey PAC.
AND Barry Eastmond, producer, and family, made it even more special. We did music for the, “Tomorrow Today” record in his Tarrytown studio. Close and intimate, we did a long intermission program. New music, old music, loud music, soft music, “L is for Lover,” to “We Got By,” to “Heart’s Horizon,” and “Scootchabooty.” And, “Put It,” and “Roof Garden.” The whole enchilada.
And there was an ex-hockey player from Russia here tonight. He says I inspired him to do music, and he’s still doing it now. Thank you to my amazing band that continues to play with inspired freshness. Audiences are awed. Thank you Tarrytown, I’m Disney-fied anew. See you in Westport, CT, and Basel, Switzerland. Everyday is Thanksgiving.
Columbus Ohio Theatre
As we approached this Columbus show, I have often mentioned to Ohio audiences that I surely have played more cities and dates in Ohio, than any other state in the union, including California and New York. And in the past I have said, “I love you and thank you,” for that support throughout the years at Blossom, Cincinnati, Cleveland, etc. But never before have I played with the Columbus Symphony, home of the Buckeyes. “College town USA.”
Saturday afternoons are described and owned by red and gold autumn leaves, megaphones and scarlet and gray or red and white, screaming crowds, and saddle shoes. Look it up. I almost went to Miami of Ohio. Coach Cheeks from my Lincoln High School in Milwaukee were schooled at Miami of Ohio. They grew boys into men. THAT’S THE PLACE TO BE.
During our rehearsal I was delightfully surprised at how the orchestra played my program as though they had been rehearsing it over and over for days.
Just to review, as in an opera or Broadway musical, the evening begins with the orchestra playing a short snippet summary of all the important songs and pieces. This is called the overture. When I do this, it’s called the “Jarreauverture.” And so we play a little bit of “Boogie Down,” “We’re In This Love Together,” “Blue Rhondo A La Turk,” “Since I Fell For You,” “Moonlighting Theme,” and the ever endearing two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles on a sesame seed bun from my commercial from McDonalds, me and Vesta Williams… B.C. If you’re smiling, that’s perfect.
Conductor Larry Baird, and my rhythm section trio from the touring band are the anchor points. In one moment we’re doing the quite spiritual, “Alonzo,” and in the next moment we are romping and stomping through, “Boogie Down.” But the main thing is, and always the main thing is, and will be, that the audience cannot resist singing along. I promise you and confess that this is the deliberate design of so much of what I do. Please come and tell me, “this is my wedding song,” “my mom brought me to your concert in Bremin in 1974, and this is my granddaughter Gretchen and she likes your music too, and don’t stop Al.” I’ve got it since a long time ago. Not to worry.
When people gather in one place, under one roof or sky, and hold hands and sing, this is called fellowship or Church or community or togetherness, and it always leads to high morale and healing. Thank you Leonid, concertmaster. Thank you to the concert conductor. Thank you Jude. I turn to my left and locked eyes with 5 Bassists who were great on that night. And just next to them on the left, was a string section that surely mesmerized and fried everyone’s notions of strings when they played their solo in, “Alonzo.” And then after that, helped me sail into, “Bess” (George and Ira Gershwin).
And boys and girls there was a romping and stomping through, “Summertime,” that I know and am certain that was new for this audience. We emphasized what we could of the suggested lightness and unworried attitude that is suggested by, “Summertime.” But it had a romping and stomping air and aura about it.
Larry Baird, conductor of the Moody Blues, conducted every cue and clue for the orchestra and for me too. This was the most rock and roll-ish symphony crowd. They were almost grabbing my pant cuffs and demanding I do autographs at the last encore when we were trying to go home.
Thank you Buckeyes. And here’s to more red and golden Saturday afternoons, and Saturday nights of heartfelt music.
Maybe you can guess (if you can’t , then let me tell you) how fabulously wonderful it is to be talking about my adventure at the 2013 Grammy awards.
The album I recorded with the Metropole Orkest (Jazz Orchestra!!!) was nominated for 2 awards. I was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album, and Vince Mendoza, the conductor and arranger, was nominated for Best Instrumental Arrangement, for “Spain.”
I also contributed to a Children’s Album, which got nominated, titled, “Jumpin’ Jazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale.” DeeDee Bridgewater, flautist Hubert Laws, and I did some lovely work on that project. The real reward is in being nominated for the award at all. When your associates, colleagues, brothers and sisters, who do the same type of work that you do, single you out and put your name in the hat in recognition of a job well done, you have already won. If you take home the trophy it should be a shared win with all the other nominees.
I’ve been doing this for 37 years, and to be getting this kind of approval at this point in my career is really a wonderful thing.
If you’ve got kids, or if you’re just a grown up kid yourself, go and find, “Jumpin’ Jazz Kids.” It’s fun. And of course, I’m recommending, “Al Jarreau and The Metropole Orkest – Live.” I had been talking for years about a doing a project with an orchestra, and here it is. I hope there will be another- There’s a lot more orchestra music that I want to do.
Check out Shannon West’s interview with me and Joe Turano, my music director, about the Metropole project at www.smoothviews.com.
The new touring season is getting off to a start, and I’ll talk to you about some recent dates soon. Ok bye-bye for now.
Concerto Di Natale
Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas Concerto!
I and Joe G., my manager, and Joe T., my music conductor, and Brian , my assistant, arrived from the Dubai, Belarus, and Moscow concerts, and we slip right into Rome, and jump right into the festivities.
This is the 20th year of this production, and it’s always broadcast on Christmas Eve or nearby. There were 28 performers, including Italian and international stars. 2 years ago I was a part of the show, and we did it from Malta. This is a real big deal production, and it’s a high profile, prestigious honor. I did Elton John’s, “Your Song,” on my own (performance number 27 out of 28), and earlier, Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song,” with a really beautiful Italian jazz/pop singer named Chiara… She studied at Berklee School of Music in Boston, and has 3 CD’s. Her first CD was produced by Ted Templeton and Steve Gadd was all over it. This rascal writes with Burt Bacharach. She rocks. I hope you can get to Rome at all, but try to go at Christmas time.
They go all out with Christmas decorations done by Tiffany’s and Gucci. Taste and elegance. I was immediately and over and over again saying, “Susan and I have to come back here again at Christmas time.” We did it before. Magic.
The stage was 70 feet from the edge of the front of the stage to the back wall of the stage. With a full orchestra of at least 80 pieces and 20 background singers. Amazingly, they played all the music for all the 28 artists, and stayed in place for 4 hours. That’s a marathon.
The audience could get up and move around a bit. But in fact they were there as long. They maintained attention and enthusiasm with several standing ovations right until the very end.
You would have loved 7-8 young guys who sang Jingle Bell Rock. There was also Reverend Jackson’s 15-voice tri-state mass gospel choir, which was a great thing to see in Italy. They brought a Sunday morning Church feel, and brought people to their feet.
There were 8 priests in the front row that sat 3 yards away from me, with warmth and enthusiasm all night long, and also stood up and applauded.
I was so happy to see them, and whenever I was down front and singing they knew how I loved their presence. The evening appropriately featured 3 brilliant, classical singers. 2 performed a thrilling version of, “Beauty and the Beast,” and the classical lady in white dress sang, “Ave Maria.” It thrilled me to tears.
All in all, a fabulous, wonderful event, and a great way to bring out the Christmas season, and close out the year. Hi and thank you Sabrina for all of your help! See you next year! Thanks to everyone!
Belarus to Moscow. An hours flight. Both countries are amazing in their own ways! Belarus was simple and quaint, and Moscow it’s busy counterpart.
Ok switch gears. I have a real true friend here in the jazz idiom who is “pure art,” along with Ella, Henry Moore, and Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. I don’t know how she does it. Her vocal chops are unending. She could stand there beside Stevie Wonder and Luciano Pavarotti, and when those guys are tired, she’d go on. In a country where western music was not allowed until “the wall” crumbled around the fall of 1989 (moments ago), she went and found it way, way before that. And today, she could stand there with me or Krall or Hendrix or Joe Williams, and sing the tradition! But wait folks. This one has acted in 14 movies in Russia, and a Russian play or drama has historically been revered and pointed at as the highest art form of acting, and playwriting that we have known on the planet.
She did the most brilliant television productions I have ever seen. Look out Michael. In terms of the business of putting together the pieces of any production that electrify somebody’s heart, I’ve seen some amazing stuff. And at the center of it, and inventing it, was Larisa Dolina. She comes to the Palladium in Los Angeles and does 14 nights in a row to a cheering, screaming Russian American and American. I’m astounded by the strength and beauty and pure heart and soul.
I couldn’t believe it when she told me she’s doing the dramatic musical Mata Hari!!! Please look it up. There is not enough space here to describe what this production is all about. But, oh yes. She’s on stage acting and singing and acting acting! She’s an actress.
Well, she came and sang with me last night. A few years ago, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Larissa, and I shared an evening together in Moscow in front of a great jazz audience.
I must close with the fact that she brought me to the Kremlin and we sang before Russian royalty and Russian dignitaries.
We sang, “Roof Garden,” and the people danced and screamed. And tonight my little sista Larissa stopped at the hotel restaurant and laughed and talked like we had never talked before. This is all I have to say about Moscow. Soon we’re going to Italy for Christmas, and soon it will be 2013. Thanks guys!
What an amazingly quaint place! We arrived to snowfall, and drove through these beautiful, flowing white hills to get to our hotel. Our drivers spoke great English, and told us a little about the history of Belarus.
The weather was so cold, but it really brought me back to my roots in Milwaukee. I love this kind of weather, and I kept telling that fact to everyone. I could live here, and play music all day.
Before the show, we had a school come up and ask questions about my career and music in general. And then, something happened. Some of the teachers and kids came up and started having a jam session with my band! I was not expecting this at all, but it was a great time. They were great jazz players, and I was really impressed with their improvising. They are welcome on my stage any time.
We hit the show, and it’s all smiles. The songs go over really well with this audience, and everyone seems to know the words to the classic hits. We’re grooving and shaking, and making new friends in Belarus.
After the show, we had a reception with some of the sponsors. I had some great food, and laughed with everyone there. Thanks Belarus for all the memories!
Pronounced “Doo By.” Some of you may be old enough to remember some fantastic, wonderful songs from Broadway musicals. There’s a song whose important chorus line is “far away places with the strange sounding names are calling, calling me.” It’s a haunting little piece of music that I sang in high school a cappella choir. Little did I know that I might have been the composer. I sure am the subject of that song, “The Dreamer.” It took 16 hours to get there, and it’s a jewel in the crown of the Arab Emirates, that include… it sits at the bottom curve of the Persian Gulf, and for centuries it has historically been an important hub along the trade routes. However Dubai itself is a new city, less than 40 years old. You may have seen TV journal reports on this fantastically wealthy, ultra modern, community.
And everything is spanking brand new and high-tech, with some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. It’s as though they’re racing with the world to have the biggest and newest and grandest everything. Somebody described it as Disneyland gone wild. Europeans love the warmth of the sunny beaches and the party atmosphere that seems to never stop. But there’s a conservative quality about it that’s very unlike Vegas and most high-end resort towns.. We’re an hour’s plane ride from Iraq and Iran, but the tolerance for Western practices and ideas is strikingly different. I mentioned to a journalist how important it was that Westerners like me get invited, and we have these great, little cultural exchange programs where we all discover how much we are alike This is my first time in Dubai, but last year we went to Abu Dhabi, which is about a 35-minute drive away. Talk about a strange sounding name. Ah-Boo-Dah-Bee. We made some new friends, and we did again this time. We played outside starting at 9pm and “wow,” it’s a very comfortable 73 degrees. They tell me that in the summer it’s really hot. We played on the beach about 50 yards from the water, on an improvised scaffolding stage, with folding chairs for the audience. I love these kinds of loose, comfortable relaxed atmospheres.
Well, the fans came last night, and came running down front to dance and party towards the end of the program and the encores. They squealed with surprise and delight when their local promoter, Morozov, walked out on stage and literally tore it up with improvised playing and solos in Agua/Mas. These are called magic moments you guys. Who knew??? There was a big, big lady in the front row with a black dress who literally jumped up and down in place with excitement. And there was a guy who screamed for, “Roof Garden,” so long and loud all evening that we had no choice. One of the most wonderful responses to, “Jacaranda Bougainvillea,” all about Mandela’s new South Africa. After the concert, I hugged both of our promoters really hard, and mentioned to them and their guests how wonderful it is to be making new friends. I can tell that they are quietly bursting with joy and happiness about this evening. And the people! What a wave of support for the new kids in town… rushing up on stage to get autographs and photos before I could even get off of the stage. We’re already talking about doing this again, and some other neighboring countries.
Wonderful news. The new record that I did with the Metropole Orchestra from Holland, and Vince Mendoza (conductor and arranger) is nominated for a Grammy!
Ok that’ s it for now you guys. I’ll talk to you from Minsk, Moscow, and Rome. And then home for Christmas.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra (D.S.O.)
Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. They are locally known by D.S.O. Sounds like a world famous rock group. Anyway, last night we were the D.S.O. and the Al Jarreau. D.S.O. and Al Jarreau created a new musical experience for everybody who knows Al Jarreau and the motor city Detroit from long ago. Me too!!! And what a night it was.
15 years ago when I first started doing this symphony orchestra program, I talked more at the website about this new wonderful venture. Excellent adventure into the world where my music meets the classical orchestra. Unfortunately and sadly the symphony orchestra in America is going away. And those who hang in there and survive are kind of sticking to their bread and butter, i.e. stuff like Bach and Beethoven. Other genres are extras.
Here we go! My rhythm section always comes with me to make sure that all the basic fundamentals are covered and insured. Larry Williams – synth and acoustic keyboards, Mark Simmons – drums and spiritual percussion. And Chris Walker on bass and background vocals. According to Moses and Hoyle, we started with an Overture, Medley (recognizable phrases) from 5 well known songs in my career: Boogie Down, We’re In This Love Together, Blue Rondo, Since I fell, Moonlighting. 2 all beef patties, special sauce, cheese, pickles on a sesame seed bun.
D.S.O. Al Jarreau. The real fun and inspiring part to me is to do all of these basically familiar old favorites with a full orchestra setting. Strings and horns, and timpani, and exotic percussion. And even a harpist. Every solo artist, Coltrane and Miles, Streisand and Pavarotti have adored the orchestra setting.
We’re back in a flash and effervescing away with, “Something’s Coming” with the west side story. Surprise?!? We throw in little bits and pieces of, “Maria,” “The Jets,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “Be In America.”
Thanks for everything!
I hope you’ll look up the Norddeutscher Rundfunk Big Band. In brief, they are an 18-piece big band jazz band that would make Basie, and Canton, and Ellington just laugh and clap their hands at how good the tradition they set is being carried on. And believe it or not, the band is 46 years old. Somewhere earlier I mentioned that they in fact solo as though they had been born in NY or New Orleans.
Going on, I didn’t realize that Joe’s new CD with the NDR, was a real concept project with songs designed around a central theme. The title of the album is, “The Children Of The Sun.” As Joe tells it, when he was in St. Croix, he came upon the ruins of the slaves quarters who worked the land, and made the rum, and harvested the sugar cane, and his eyes were glued to the endless blue sea surrounding the island. He was deeply touched by the realization that there was no escape from this island. No running away. The writers who wrote about this period referred to these children as, “children of the sun.” In a sort of blinding flash of light of understanding, we almost said together out loud, “Porgy and Bess were the children of the children of the sun, and what an amazing coincidence (it surely wasn’t on purpose) that my Porgy and Bess program, fit so perfectly with the Children Of The Sun.
We recorded a couple nights, and just maybe we’ve captured this wonderful coming together. Our hope is that we can bring this program to America. Ok thanks everybody I’ll see you next time.
What a magnificent concert hall just to look at. Somehow the looseness in its design doesn’t feel boxy straight up and down and confined. There are interesting little sections like the balcony behind the orchestra stage with 200 people waving and shouting. This is also the pipe organ loft. And then this back balcony wraps around and you can look left or right and watch it flow into the front balcony.
Joe sample and I are checking all this out at sound check time and we look and talk about, “This is the last night, man.” 5 weeks flying for me. And so I thank the band for their beautiful arrangements and playing that made me be a new me.
We tumble and roll and slip sideways, silently through the square, and we’re gone….. and suddenly there’s me and Joe Sample, 3 hours later, with encores done in the front of the hall, signing C.D.’s and autographs.
What a trip!