Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Al Jarreau – We Got By

   While many debuts are just one time hits with no further development, only some are groundbreaking events. Very few only are both instant hits and the opening of beautiful artistic career. This was the case of Al Jarreau’s first album. He started to sing in San Francisco jazz clubs in 60’s, first with George Duke trio and after 1967 with guitarist Julio Martinez. Until the moment he run his career as a professional jazz singer Al Jarreau was working as a therapist and rehabilitation counselor. This occupation had paramount importance, he was always working in contact and through the contact with people he brings support. When he was on the stage, he was always establishing this close bound with the audience, like it was continuation of his previous occupation.
   In 1968 he became professional musician and next year he decided to move to Los Angeles and from this moment on he was on his way to professional career. Series of club and television appearances gave Al Jarreau many possibilities to develop his interpretative skills and in effect to create his original style. His phonographic debut in the age of 35 was late and very mature. Recorded for Reprise label of Warner Bross the album in monochromatic green cover showed new kind of vocal sensitivity, with deep soul feeling and virtuoso articulations continuing mainstream tradition with quite brave style. Smooth R&B arrangements gave these songs some commercial advantages and whole album quickly became blockbuster, giving Al Jarreau German Grammy Award.

Al Jarreau – We Got By (1975)

   Nine songs were written by Al Jarreau, arranged by Al Jarreau and keyboardist Tom Canning, with strings and horn arrangements by David Grusin, who also played additional keyboards in few songs. Some vocal arrangements were made by Al Jarreau with Morgan Ames. It was recorded with drummer Joe Correro and bassist Paul Stallworth, with Larry Bunker playing vibes and guitarist Arthur Adams in You Don’t See Me. Limited but made with good taste, clear and economic in meanings, accompaniments gave solo singer great space for unveiling in interpretation new vision of vocal expression. Al Jarreau is great singer shaping every phrase and every sound with perfection and warm frankness. Shortly this way of singing became his wide recognizable style.
   Maybe this looks somehow modest but this was a real returning to the trend of mainstream jazz singing. With scat singing and improvisations constructed in the instrumental way, Al Jarreau established in post fusion era a new and really influencing attainment. Shortly after the success of his first album, artist recorded his second album Glow, giving concerts and TV appearances all over the world. After months of rapid career, Al Jarreau became one of most respected jazz singers of late 70’s and 80’s. In time of Broadway engagement he was overhauled with live gigs, so in 90’s his star had faded for few years to shine again in new century. His triumphant comeback after great Tomorrow Today (2000) album was a reprise of the style defined by his 25 years earlier debut.

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