Happy Birthday: Al Jarreau

Monday, March 12, 2018
Al Jarreau

Today we celebrate the birthday of the late Al Jarreau, the seven-time Grammy award winning vocalist and musician who died last year at the age of 76. To commemorate the occasion, we’ve got the official Jarreau playlist here and ready for your listening enjoyment, but we’ve also culled five songs by other artists to which Jarreau contributed.

1. Quincy Jones featuring Minnie Riperton and Leon Ware, “If I Ever Lose This Heaven” (1974): This minor hit from Jones’s BODY HEAT album is notable for the vocal performances by Riperton and Ware, both of whom are credited vocalists on the track. Jarreau, however, has a slightly different credit: he’s listed as having contributed “Effects [Vocal],” just as he is on the album’s second track, “Soul Saga (Song of the Buffalo Soldier).” In other words, you can hear him if you’re listening closely, but only then.

2. Chick Corea, “Hot News Blues” (1978): When the All Music Guide referred to 1978 as being an “almost impossibly active year” for Chick Corea, they weren’t exaggerating. During the course of the year, he released three studio albums (THE MAD HATTER, SECRET AGENT, and FRIENDS) and participated in two live albums (AN EVENING WITH HERBIE HANCOCK & CHICK COREA and RTF LIVE). It was on the aforementioned SECRET AGENT when he teamed with Jarreau for this track, on which Jarreau contributed both the vocals and the lyrics he’s vocalizing.

3. Flora Purim, CARRY ON (1979): Speaking of RTF, a.k.a. Return to Forever, Purim – “The Queen of Brazilian Jazz” – is an icon in her native Brazil, having been named to the Order of Rio Branco in September 2002, but her success in the States has been relatively limited. It’s surprising that this duet with Jarreau didn’t change her fortunes, however, as it has the feel of a real dance-floor filler.

4. Sister Sledge, “Bet Cha Say That To All The Girls” (1983): The title track to Sister Sledge’s seventh studio album is so much fun that it’s a wonder it never scored a release as a single, particularly given how much fun Jarreau sounds like he’s having as he plays the rapping playboy trying to chat up the Sledge sisters.

5. Shakatak, “Day by Day” (1985): This jazz-funk band out of Great Britain found considerable UK chart success in the ‘80s, scoring two top-10 hits (“Night Birds” and “Down on the Street”), along with more than two dozen other songs making their way to various spots on the UK Singles chart. They only did this one-off single with Jarreau, though, and that’s a shame, because it was a lot of fun.