Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Photo of Al Jarreau and me back stage on Nov. 11.
Al Jarreau still has that "fire in the belly"
For Al Jarreau, life is a joyous, excellent adventure.
The legendary singer continues to tour, and is bringing his signature smooth jazz sound to the Jorgensen Cabaret at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12.
“I’m really so blessed with a joy in the music that just spills over,” Jarreau, 71, said in a telephone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “When I am standing there and singing, something special happens. It is very precious stuff.”
The world-renowned, gifted star is one of the few artists to have won seven Grammy Awards in three separate categories — jazz, pop, and rhythm and blues — over four decades.
Jarreau possesses a voice that feels safe, warm, and reassuring. His band, which has been with him for 15 years, perfectly complements his enduring sound that never goes out of style.
A natural baritone, Jarreau said he often stretches to the top end of his range, observing that as he has aged, his voice has naturally deepened.
His latest CD, “The Very Best of Al Jarreau: An Excellent Adventure,” includes many of his hits, such as “After All” and “We’re In This Love Together,” which he will include on this weekend’s playlist.
It is more than just his singing, though, that makes Jarreau such a consummate performer.
Much of his set is improvisational and inspired by the moment — interspersing the songs with spontaneous conversation with the audience.
“Being in the moment and having fun, that’s the thing, and just forgetting your problems for a while,” Jarreau said.
Where does he get the energy to continue touring?
“It is the music,” Jarreau responded. “It is a deep-seated love that comes with that fire in the belly that spills over into other areas of your life.”
Jarreau grew up in Wisconsin where he started singing in public with his mother, a church pianist, when he was 5 years old.
As a youth he was also a cross-country runner, where he learned endurance and perseverance.
“You have teammates, but you learn to suffer in silence,” Jarreau said. “I had a lot of conversations with myself.”
Jarreau earned a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation and worked in that career for a while in San Francisco, but through it all he always continued singing.
“If I had the smarts I would have gone into medicine,” Jarreau said. “But the smiles I get from the people I sing to are better than being a social worker and better than being a physician.”
Returning to Connecticut
Jarreau was last in Connecticut in 1989, where he saw the Welterweight Championship fight with Marlin Starling at the Hartford Civic Center, now the XL Center.
“I made some good friends in Hartford,” Jarreau said. “I am sorry I’ve been away so long.”
When he learned that he was returning to Connecticut after all these years he was delighted.
“I am tickled about doing this music to have a platform to say something to people,” Jarreau said. “There is fun to be had.”
Aches and pain are all a part of life, he observed, but it is a joyous life. “The journey is learning how to live it,” Jarreau said. “You’ve got to work.”
And although performing and touring is a lot of work, it’s meaningful work for Jarreau.
“Music is one of those magical things,” he said. “You smile a lot and you find joy in a lot of things. It makes for better lives, and makes you a better neighbor and citizen of the community. Finding music is a great thing.”
Ticket prices range from $10 to $55. For tickets call 860-486-4226 or visit: