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 Bordeaux, France – 2015 Some of the best red wines in the world come from the vineyards in Bordeaux. And my guess is that only the French know that it’s way down south near the border to Spain. I was surprised to realize how long it’s been since I played a concert here- I say the name so often because of the concerts that we continue to do in the nearby region (Toulouse, Marseilles, etc.). When we walked into the concert venue, I immediately smiled and chuckled and said, “Oh yea, baby!” It was a room that was basically a box with a top on it. No seats, shoulder-to-shoulder, belly-to-belly, with the first row pressed right against the front of the stage. It’s on! And so it was. They screamed when the band walked to stage before me. Intimate? There was a boy down in front seven feet away from me with fingers laced through the barricade like a kid on the playground. And a woman to my right 20 feet away who bounced up and down with every punctuation and drum lick. I tried to hear what she was shouting to me between songs but couldn’t and still I knew what she was saying. All across the first 8 rows of standing people I was so very aware that they were singing the lyric right along with me. WOW! For me it does not get better than this. And so…the situation got some of the best innuendos and nuances out of the band and me. We put together a program for this summer that has some new songs and new approaches to old songs. All of that came together beautifully there in Bordeaux making the band and me feel like we’re right on target. Philippe Saisse would have cracked up hearing his song “Says” with French lyrics just pop and spark so wonderfully here last night. I try to keep from mentioning new music that we do. In these situations the planned out solos on horn or guitar or flute or drums from Joe and John and Larry and Mark are well appreciated beyond the norm taking things to a new and overall level. There was lots of stuff like that all night long with interactions between the guys on stage and me that we sparked and fueled and caused by the audience’s reactions. I really have to study the show tape and make some asterisks. Enough Ooohing and Ahhing… I had some guests after the show who are really important to me. Sassoune was a brilliant jai alai player who came to his first Al Jarreau concert in Biarritz (Basque country, Bilbao moon). I even wore a beret on stage that Sassoune gave me. His wife is from Milwaukee and so they brought me cookies and sweets that she baked for their local restaurant called the Milwaukee Café. Amazing! Also backstage, with her daughter, Maxime, was the cutest red cheeked Dutch delight that Holland has to offer. Monique is her name. She could be on a postcard in front of a windmill with a traditional apron and dress wearing wooden shoes. She had come to Bordeaux to look for an apartment for her 21-year-old daughter who’ll be a student at a nearby university. Amazing. I first met Monique long ago, when she was a student backstage screaming and giggling and loosing track of her ride back to her apartment. She jumped on the touring bus with me and the guys and we took her back to her place. How wonderfully similar the circumstances are. She brought her young daughter to hear me and sure enough they missed their train so we gave them a ride once again. What a scream! We laughed so hard about that. Well anyway, we’ll head on into the summer tour with another date at the Olympia in Paris all hopeful and excited about the idea that there are people who still want to hear what we have to say. Thank you, Father! See you in Paris. Love, Al
Bordeaux, France – 2015
- posted ON 07.3.15 AT 06:27 AM
Bordeaux, France – 2015
Some of the best red wines in the world come from the vineyards in Bordeaux. And my guess is that only the French know that it’s way down south near the border to Spain. I was surprised to realize how long it’s been since I played a concert here- I say the name so often because of the concerts that we continue to do in the nearby region (Toulouse, Marseilles, etc.).
When we walked into the concert venue, I immediately smiled and chuckled and said, “Oh yea, baby!” It was a room that was basically a box with a top on it. No seats, shoulder-to-shoulder, belly-to-belly, with the first row pressed right against the front of the stage. It’s on! And so it was.
They screamed when the band walked to stage before me. Intimate? There was a boy down in front seven feet away from me with fingers laced through the barricade like a kid on the playground. And a woman to my right 20 feet away who bounced up and down with every punctuation and drum lick. I tried to hear what she was shouting to me between songs but couldn’t and still I knew what she was saying. All across the first 8 rows of standing people I was so very aware that they were singing the lyric right along with me. WOW! For me it does not get better than this.
And so…the situation got some of the best innuendos and nuances out of the band and me. We put together a program for this summer that has some new songs and new approaches to old songs. All of that came together beautifully there in Bordeaux making the band and me feel like we’re right on target. Philippe Saisse would have cracked up hearing his song “Says” with French lyrics just pop and spark so wonderfully here last night. I try to keep from mentioning new music that we do. In these situations the planned out solos on horn or guitar or flute or drums from Joe and John and Larry and Mark are well appreciated beyond the norm taking things to a new and overall level. There was lots of stuff like that all night long with interactions between the guys on stage and me that we sparked and fueled and caused by the audience’s reactions. I really have to study the show tape and make some asterisks.
Enough Ooohing and Ahhing…
I had some guests after the show who are really important to me. Sassoune was a brilliant jai alai player who came to his first Al Jarreau concert in Biarritz (Basque country, Bilbao moon). I even wore a beret on stage that Sassoune gave me. His wife is from Milwaukee and so they brought me cookies and sweets that she baked for their local restaurant called the Milwaukee Café. Amazing!
Also backstage, with her daughter, Maxime, was the cutest red cheeked Dutch delight that Holland has to offer. Monique is her name. She could be on a postcard in front of a windmill with a traditional apron and dress wearing wooden shoes. She had come to Bordeaux to look for an apartment for her 21-year-old daughter who’ll be a student at a nearby university. Amazing. I first met Monique long ago, when she was a student backstage screaming and giggling and loosing track of her ride back to her apartment. She jumped on the touring bus with me and the guys and we took her back to her place. How wonderfully similar the circumstances are. She brought her young daughter to hear me and sure enough they missed their train so we gave them a ride once again. What a scream! We laughed so hard about that.
Well anyway, we’ll head on into the summer tour with another date at the Olympia in Paris all hopeful and excited about the idea that there are people who still want to hear what we have to say. Thank you, Father!
See you in Paris.
Moissac, France — 2015
We played in the court yard of an 11th century Abbey—all stone work with arches and pillars and alters where church services would happen after our sound check. I was in awe. You could almost hear the monks singing in this Cloister. Stone statues taking months to chisel and carve look outward and downward in protection of this sacred place. Oh what amazing things we accomplish when we direct our thinking and doing toward the highest principles. When we huddled up before hitting the stage, Larry gave a very appropriate thanks and invocation. Amen all around.
This was our first night on the European tour and so a screaming audience send off with five encores would have been super fantastic for getting everybody’s energies all charged up. Well this was our first time in Moissac with a new audience of listeners gathered in a church courtyard with statues of saints looking on. So their response, while quite welcoming, seemed a little shy and tentative. But by the end of the evening some very energetic people from the sides and way back came rushing down front and really danced and had fun. And soooooo, almost without missing a beat, Joe Turano walked back out and, with me, starts the chords of the last eight bars of the Gershwin’s’ “Summertime”. Only John Hendricks and I do this portion of the song. In fact I use his lyric, which is as sensitive and poignant as anything in the Broadway musical. “Life should be like summertime”.
Real quickly here, the Gershwin’s were Russian immigrants who were so able to empathize with the black experience during the 1900s marginalized in ghettos, many still working in fields. They captured it so well that it still makes lots of sensitive black folks in America really uncomfortable. Somehow we managed to offer up a lot of that same meaning and even the dancers down front paused for a minute. A little moody, slow funk backbeat helps all of this.
Everyone felt the change of mood in the Cloister and so we gave them some fire-y “Spain”. We all felt really good about saying goodnight at that point. As we walked from the courtyard there were lots of shouting well-wishers reaching out to shake hands and thank us.
We then got on the bus and headed for Bordeaux…like the red wine. Yum! See ya tomorrow.
Good morning. Bonjour. We’re on our way to the airport and just kicked off our summer tour with a beautiful festival night in Toronto. What a fantastic city! Big international cosmopolitan but oh so civilized! My assistant said, “They’re so polite.” He’s right…polite. As we all should be…. sensitivity, humanity. They have a Blue Jay stadium and a Maple Leaves and Raptors arena and a thousand brand new high-rise residential apartment buildings inundating the old traditional downtown and preserving it with new, young business people and workers.
So maybe it’s not surprising that this year they’re celebrating their 27th Jazz Festival, which is so much like the above. Real tradition lasting over 10 days with multiple venues. Big ones, small ones, even local clubs celebrating the spirit of this music and preserving it for the future.
Well, all has not been well here. The winter was brutal and long lasting up until what seems like just a few days ago. Jumping right from winter to summer. No spring! Lips still blue and chins trembling.
We got one more parting shot from Mother Nature with a serious rainstorm that began during our concert. They surly knew about this surprise weather possibility long ago and sheltered the main stage of the festival under a beautiful white tent holding a thousand seats. Out beyond the tent was a close-up standing area with at least as many people as under the main tent. They had umbrellas and seemed to deal with the rain almost as if it was another concertgoer in their midst. Brazil, Florida, and London know this phenomenon well and also prepare for it.
Kurt Elling, Christian McBride, and others are all part of this Jazz Festival, but tonight it would be me and “Soul Understated feat. Mavis Poole”, a young, progressive, soulful funky jazz group since 2008 that has managed to do the elusive thing of combining R&B and Hip/Hop rhythms (not sampled but played by a real bass player and drummer and guitarist) that created electrically sparkly and charged space where horn solos could operate at will—real jazzy. I said to the audience that Miles or Coltrane would love that canvas. Beautiful Mavis Poole slid her vocal tones in and throughout this backdrop daring to not be like Aretha or Chaka. I really loved them and told them so. They’re so good as openers- I think this combination is a good one.
We followed with what I thank God for more and more each day—to have some history and legacy, and yes, even lots of years in this changing and fluctuating profession and art form. My 100 meter times are not the same and my high notes are a little lower, but I have a collection of music from my recorded and performing past that remains a pretty good calling card. These days being new and establishing yourself in this “quick startup” world is a big challenge. So we go to stage every night with a welcomed past and anxious ears and minds hoping to hear the song they danced to on their wedding night or “Boogie Down” that they play for their kindergarten class because of the message.
And so even here in Toronto, Canada, or as it will be throughout this summer tour in Europe, we joyously go to stage and sprinkle that good ole stuff with new arrangements and brand new music that continues to be satisfying and attracts new listeners as well. This Toronto audience was close and nearby to the front of the stage and hot and receptive. They allowed me to chat and reflect a bit during and between songs, which, for me, is of super importance. This intimacy allows folks to enter my world and thinking for a little while. The marvelous and amazing thing for singers is language—words and thoughts and ideas communicated in the most common form of human interaction (speaking and listening). Something special happens when you can keep that as an integral part of your performance.
Of course, I tend to talk too much…
But these days I get to talk about me and George Duke and our old friendship, and then we play “My Old Friend”. That’s important. The people out back in the intermittent rain with umbrellas seemed to not notice Mother Nature’s little entrance as we moved through our program of ballads and fire. They even stood up several times and clapped until we did encores.
If you read again what I said a few paragraphs ago about being grateful, then you have an expanded sense of how wonderfully this season’s concerts, beginning in Japan back in November and continuing through the Spring and now with a great night in Toronto as we begin the summer tour, lift me up and leave me feeling fresh as I work with a new and different physical body. Oh yeah! I left 3 and ½ vertebrae from my lower back at Cedar Sinai Hospital in October last year, but I’m still kickin’. So look out, hear we come, Moissac. Hear we come, Bordeaux and Paris.
Can’t wait to see y’all!
Santa Barbara, CA – Lobero Theater – 2015
Playing in Santa Barbara just like Yountville the night before is a very serious reminder that the big city is only part of the world of music listeners. In fact, as a performer, if you want to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, you should be sure to find some audiences that are typically bypassed by most touring groups.
The last time we were in Santa Barbara was six years ago. That’s terrible. That’s no way to treat an audience of listeners and concertgoers who are friends of your music. I can’t help thinking about this kind of stuff, y’all. It’s troublesome to me and I have to take the time to talk about this now while I’m thinking about it.
Right here I have to ask you if you’ve searched out the Shannon West article I posted a few times ago. Part of my takeaway from that article is that, good or bad—and these are my own thoughts and words—this is a brand new day of music appreciation in our country and world that is quite unlike any other time. In short, there is the fiercest competition for the listeners’ mind and eyes and ears that there’s ever been in history. Just for instance, any youngster is lured by the biggest and best film features with animation that makes any and every feat of human ability happen in front of their eyes with all the bells and whistles and guts and gore. And you can even get it on your iPhone or laptop while you are crossing the street and tweeting and texting. Can you imagine John Lennon’s “Imagine” or Police’s “Roxanne” or Green Day’s “When I come around” finding listening space and attention span in this kind of atmosphere? All of this has the effect of scattering a person’s interest so that only the most obvious and base-ish human activities tend to get through…sex and violence and the like. And the younger the observer, the more powerful the lure.
There will always be headliners that sell out 20,000 seat venues to screaming teenagers. But there has always been an audience for the smaller venue…the 12 to 2,500 seater. This audience doesn’t find their interests or musical tastes even demonstrated or shown anymore. They can’t find their favorite artist on the radio or any other form of media. And so obviously that concert promoter who showcased these artists is experiencing low attendance rates.
I’m going to stop here and continue onto Santa Barbara but the conclusions you can draw are clear and obvious.
Anyways, I happily returned to Santa Barbara and reconnected with this audience that I rarely see. And here we are at the Lobero Live Concert Series, which has been going on for 15 plus years. David, the Lobero’s executive director, was quite proud of their work at this venue. He also exuded a quiet confidence that his audience was happily awaiting my arrival. He was right.
These guys really liked our intermission program that featured all the AJ Hits, so to speak, and the new pieces that we’re introducing this season. I love intermission evenings, too. Things are much more relaxed and causal and inviting, giving me time to talk about the George Duke days in the Haight/Ashbury area and other little personal anecdotes.
My friend, DeAnna met with me backstage and brought some wonderful photos of the University of Iowa and “Bodda Bae” and Days of Our Lives. We took lots of pictures with VIPs and special guests and the wonderful & spirited Betty, a Lobero donor and supporter of the concert series. It was a great ending to a great night.
Thanks, Santa Barbara! This was a wonderful return. Let’s do it again real soon!
Yountville, CA – Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway – June 2015
Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway…WOW! Now that’s a mouth full. Wow again, folks. I need to stop thinking of Brian Culbertson as the baby in the family. He’s produced and written over 20 popular singles and is in the process of producing his 14th album. And now he’s hosting this annual weekend festival…and this is year number four! Here recently I’ve mentioned two or three musician/promoter concert and festival organizers. The new breed. The last time I talked about it was Alexander Zonjic (flute player and jazz radio DJ). Nobody’s getting rich. The promoters and administrators love and care about the music and they find sponsors who must be feeling the same way. I like to call them enlightened corporate people. Someday I’ll do an editorial article about that but the long and short is that people who listen to music are smiling and happy and these are good people in the community. That’s healing. And that’s good for corporations and all of us.
So we gathered at the Lincoln Theater, first time for me, and did a really varied and full evening of music with comedy. Tonight would feature comedian Alonzo Bodden, Raul Midon, Eric Marienthal, Brian Culbertson, and of course the Al Jarreau band.
Right!! Alonzo Bodden kicked things off with some funny stories and bits that I could not hear from my dressing room except for uproar of laughter and applause and screams. I love this combination of comedy and music, and I’d love to keep that tradition going.
I hope you’ll find Raul Midon if you haven’t already. He sings and plays guitar like a madman and is thoroughly captivating and entertaining. His vocal range is off the charts and the way he strums and picks and clacks on the body of the guitar completes the rhythmic feel of his song.
When we went on, it had the distinct feeling of first timing! Well certainly it was our first time in this theater, but it also felt as though I’ve never been with this Napa Valley audience before. It’s always wonderful when folks have heard of you and know basically of what you do and are truly anticipating the real live experience. And that’s what we had at Lincoln. And just now as a group we’re also experiencing a breath of fresh spring air attitude in the music as we play and sing.
What I mean is that every touring season is preceded by head and beard scratching question marks about what new and exciting additions you can make to the program of staples that are regulars and constants. I’m not going to mention these new additions now, but they are working so well that it’s making the band’s eyes light up. Those surprises worked great with our Napa Valley revival and new audience. (Napa/Sonoma/Mendocino; this is wine country and lots of vineyards have opened their gates and improvised stages to jazz music for twenty years. But Lincoln is a real theater construction performance venue).
Of course Brian joined me on stage and brought Eric Marienthal and Raul Midon with him. This oh so obvious kind of collaboration on stage during an evening of multiple performers almost always gets neglected and goes undone.
And at the end of the evening when we did a finale of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t you Worry”, and the audience singing along, it was everything you could have asked for and a bag of chips with a new pickle and a cherry on top J.
We had a wonderful meet and greet after the show with photos and well wishes right down front. Everyone shouting, “Let’s do it again next year!
It really was a great night! See you all in Santa Barbara!
Fredrick “Freddy” Brown Jr. Amphitheater – Peachtree City, GA – 2015
We just spent a wonderful two nights and day in Peachtree City, GA at the Fredrick Brown amphitheater with 20 tables right down front with folks drinking anything too thin to chew and eating their favorite foods. And at the moment it’s Sunday morning and we’re on our way to the airport and heading home. Laughing and singing Charlie Daniels’ “Devil went down to Georgia”. We had a wonderful time. That’s always the case in Georgia. Usually Atlanta at Chastain Park but this time in a beautiful amphitheater with mostly people who’ve never been to a Jarreau concert. I love this phenomenon. We’ll be back to that in a minute.
Maybe I should have known all of this would unfold as it did because of a rare airplane experience for me. It’s quite common to be sitting in a section of the airplane where a person or two will recognize me. On the way here from home I sat down next to a guy in his 30s with whom I exchanged a nice “good morning” and we both began to settle in for the flight. I suppose that because of a comment or two from other passengers he inquired about what I do. So I gave him my quick little answer that I do music and I’m on my way to Atlanta for a concert. Pretty soon I’m answering questions about what music I do and verify my name, which he’s heard other people mentioning. He’s struggling a bit to make some sort of connections in his mind about the obscure little facts including the kind of music that I do and now he’s kind of getting it. So now comes the question, “Where you from?” When I said Milwaukee, his eyes lit up and a huge grin was on his face as he said, “I’m from Port Washington!” Which is just up the street from Milwaukee. Man, we laughed like for two hours discussing everything from being cheese heads, Milwaukee breweries, Wisconsin Badgers fight song, and “oh ya you betcha”. Both of us saying it’s the best place in the world to grow up. His name was Jim and we promised to stay in touch. So all of this should have been the good omen that this weekend would be over the moon! That was one of most wonderful airplane rides I’ve ever taken.
I don’t know maybe it did or did not predict what a wonderful time we would have in Georgia in a town 40 miles away from Atlanta. It doesn’t get any greener and summery than Georgia does between June and September. The trees and greenery seem to create and fill the air with their own moisture that always makes it feel like the back porch with lemonade and a fan (someone brought me one on stage!).
This was our tune up and rehearsal date for the summer tour and so we all arrived in the early afternoon to do a rehearsal of some new music. Hey, you kids in the back row. Be quiet and pay attention! This is what you have to do sometimes. This is how you maximize rehearsal time. It’s a little rough, but if you tack on a little extra rehearsal time to a normal sound check you can get a little more comfortable. It worked out great! …even though I was a little rusty on some songs that we haven’t played for awhile.
Sabrina Murtaugh opened the show in the singer/songwriter, Tracy Chapman-Ricky Havens, guitar strumming approach. Sweet face and warm magnetic style with fire. Later on she told me she’s from Carolina and lives in Nashville now and this new audience was warm and liked her a lot. She said she has a quartet she performs with as well. I told her that I would love it if she didn’t lose her solo performing and mentioned getting a 16inch bass drum for her to use.
There were a few quick announcements after she finishes and they call my name and we hit the stage. I promise you there’s a freshness in the reaction and on the faces of people who are hearing and seeing me and my guys in what we do for the first time. There’s a lady a couple tables back who has her fingers squeezed together and intertwined and her eyes darting back and forth from one side of the stage to the other. Not everybody was like her but I knew and the band knew that these were new friends. I spent time on stage talking about making these new friends, and I should have mentioned that so many there last night were connected to the military. Anyway this won’t be the last time I mention standing up in front of new audiences…these days we get to Poland and Lithuania and Azerbaijan.
I sat on the stool down front, and though I felt conspicuous and self-conscious, the audience seemed to not notice until I made some comment about surgery last October. A new facet and “ah-ha” experience happened when someone from the audience shouted, “We Got By”. I look at Larry with a question mark and he touches the piano in a couple of ways that make me know where the key is and off we go…impromptu…and they know it. That’s what’s cool.
That was kind of the spirit of the evening. I won’t mention the exact new tunes that we did. I want it to be a surprise…we’ll be near you soon. But it all had the effect of really elevating the spirit and feeling in the band as we played old things in combination with new stuff and came off refreshed. I think we’re all looking forward to a return to Peachtree City and ex-mayor Fredrick Brown’s amphitheater.
Chris Walker’s wife was there, along with his sister-in-law and a cast of thousands, including a second sister-in-law who was pregnant nine years ago and hadn’t figured out a name yet for her soon to be born son. They looked at me with raised eyebrows and question marks and I said, “Of course, call him Zion.” He was there too. Icing on the cake was Fred Hielsberg from Ripon showing up. Class of 1961.
Ok folks. That’s it for now. I’m going to go home and jump in the studio with Melissa Manchester for an afternoon and then I’ll see you in Yountville!
Oh I’m just here sitting and thinking about stuff….Sometimes I come across radio shows, television programs, and articles that catch my eye because they have to do with the stuff of life. You know what I mean??!! Please go and catch up with Shannon West at Smooth Views. She’s a great journalist, writer, music lover, and citizen. Her writing and thinking echoes a lot of my own “stuff” about what’s happening here. I won’t try to summarize. Just trust me and have a fun read.
All the best,
Paris – International Jazz Day – 2015
Oh my God, y’all! I wish you could have been there sitting on my shoulder seeing what I saw and hearing what I was thinking because it seems so loud in my head. I have a special love for this lady, Paris that began at the beginning of my European career and before.
Before…has to do with the romance of the highest possibilites that a human being can soar to making the most of an eyelash and a whisper and which adores rain that turns the streets into a mirror of glistening color with a flower shop and a boy and a girl with an umbrella.
It rained in Paris as we joined up with UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute to celebrate International Jazz Day with 187 other countries doing the same on this same day…April 30th, 2015. Dear me! I still can’t believe it. UNESCO and the United Nations! The United Nations and Jazz coming together with the Thelonious Monk Institute, with Herbie Hancock as the Chairman.
When American Jazzers went abroad and played this music that was born in America, they talked to an audience of people who’s freedoms were being taken away. In one evening or matinee they saw life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—the pillars of democracy. The United Nations recognizes this fact in the contributions of jazz. And everyone knows that the mother and father of today’s music, such as Rock n Roll and Rhythm and Blues and Pop, came out of Jazz.
This year was the 4th Annual International Jazz Day and how wonderful to have it happen in France. Fact is the French love jazz more than we do in the U.S. They turn it upside down and inside out and study it and swish it around in their mouths like fine wine and continue to have lots of places to hear and do jazz. And they have the oh-so-important smaller and intimate clubs that are just like the early days. This means that a lot of really average people are continuing to enjoy this truly creative and personal expression of art.
Music director and coordinator, John Beasley put together a hot band that included Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Terri Lynn Carrington, and Leigh Ritenour. Myself along with Femi Kuti, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Dhaser Yousseff, Annie Lennox, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hugh Masakela and others all got to showcase our talents on such a great stage. And there we were, a personification of the tradition at its best. 8 separate singers and horn players all playing for the first time with a band they had just met. None of this was lost on the audience who heard and applauded every nuance. This as a concept at all is jazz.
Herbie Hancock, our lead amb-jazzador, was elegant and fresh and personal in his spoken remarks and playing. His choice of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as our finale speaks volumes. This audience at the UNESCO auditorium breathed it all in and stood and applauded in appreciation.
The week in Paris also included some press interviews and a workshop with jazz appreciators at the Philharmonic of Paris, a spectacular facility that stopped me in my tracks on my way to the stage. The whole affair could almost be a watercolor painting with that boy and girl and the flower shop just across the street from the Philharmonic. I hope to be apart of next year’s celebration.
Panama City – 2015
Oh what a night of wonderful music! This is one where it was an outdoor festival and it rained with umbrellas everywhere, only to stop and produce a rainbow right over the crowd. And believe it or not, it happened as I sang, “rain rain go away, come again another day.” This is the kind of concert that people will never forget. We sang together in the rain 10,000 strong. Us against the elements. “Day-o” was incredible. After the show was over, I went to the back of the venue and signed CDs and posters and T-shirts for what seemed to be 2 hours. People were laughing and hugging and telling me their favorite Al Jarreau stories. It felt like I could have been there for all of them. I guess I was in a way. I finished the night off with a quick video interview for a local radio station and it was onto the bus again to head back to Orlando.
Me??? I took the deepest breath that you can imagine and exhaled with a “thank you, Father”. I’m on my feet getting healed by the music. I don’t talk enough about gratitude. Remind me that it’s on my list.
I know this was short and sweet, but so was Panama City. Until next time…
Miami – Jazz Roots – 2015
I’ve been to Miami a lot but not enough. It should be right there alongside New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, and Paris. I’m still thirsty. Well anyway, the audience turnout was great and welcomed me and David Sanborn and the Jazz Roots outreach program.
I’m always a little worried to follow David Sanborn at a performance J. The stage is still red hot and smoldering with small pockets of fire that continue to erupt during your opening song. This has been happening for years and it’s a marvelous union of a couple of guys cut from the same cloth. We’re thought to be jazzers but we both have such a deep love for R&B, Soul, and Pop, which will not allow us to exclude those genres from what we do. This day was special because we were Jazz Roots’ amb-jazzadores reaching out to young people who are doing music or who want to do music and will certainly be the future of music to come.
The Jazz Roots outreach program was started by Larry Rosen of GRP Record Label. What a heart-felt notion in a growing desert of interest in the arts education at all by City Hall and Washington DC. Education itself is a withered stepchild who’s unheard, unattended, and marginalized. Teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. So Jazz Roots is reaching out and encouraging and even finding big-hearted donors who will provide instruments for kids.
David and I spent an hour on stage answering questions and chatting with a hundred students on the afternoon of the concert. We glanced at each other in astonishment as we both spoke about the crying need of support for music and the arts. More about the singular importance of arts in life a little bit later…
This for me was the highlight of the Miami visit. David and I did burn the stage up in this wonderful concert hall with wrap-around balcony seating and a pipe organ in the back of the stage. Magnificent…really European in concept, i.e. organ recitals and 200 voice choirs on stage with a full orchestra. That was so much fun to turn around and recognize those people with a shout or a hand wave and they hit it real good on “Day-o”.
Yo, Miami! Let’s keep doing this. There is so much more for me to share with you. See you in Panama City…