According to the New York Times, Al Jarreau, a versatile vocalist who sold millions of records and won numerous Grammys for his work in jazz, pop and R&B, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 76. Jarreau is perhaps best known for his 1981 album Breakin’ Away, which contained his highest-charting hit “We’re In This Love Forever,” He also sang the theme song of the late-1980s television series Moonlighting, and was a performer in the 1985 charity song “We Are the World“.
His death was announced by his manager, Joe Gordon, who said Mr. Jarreau had been hospitalized for exhaustion two weeks ago.
A preacher’s son, Jarreau started singing in public as a boy but did not begin a full-time musical career until the late 1960s, when he was nearly 30. Before that, he had worked as a psychologist and rehabilitation counselor.
By the 1970s he had become a popular jazz singer, touring extensively and appearing on television. Critics praised his voice, his improvisational skill and, in particular, his virtuosic ability to produce an array of vocalizations, ranging from delicious nonsense to clicks and growls to quasi-instrumental sounds – a more extended form of the jazz style “scatting.”
To learn more about this masterful singer’s life and career, click here.
Nile Rodgers, the songwriter and producer behind Chic’s “Le Freak,” David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” and Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” will be honored by the Recording Academy’s Producers and Engineers Wing at a special tribute on February 3. As part of the official roster of Grammy week events, the evening will include appearances by nine-time Grammy nominee Ledisi, six-time Grammy winner Al Jarreau, and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin.
Rodgers co-founded the legendary band Chic with Bernard Edwards in the late ‘70s, and capitalized on disco’s popularity with a string of hits including “Good Times” and “I Want Your Love.” Rodgers also produced for top artists such as Madonna and Diana Ross, and won the Grammy for Record of the Year for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” along with Pharrell Williams in 2014.
Rodgers will also be awarded the Vanguard Award at this year’s MojaMoja Pre-Grammy Brunch, an annual event hosted by KCRW’s Garth Trinidad. In March, Chic will release a new album entitled It’s About Time.
Singer Al Jarreau and bassist Stanley Clarke will celebrate the legacy of their friend and musical partner George Duke on the opening day of the 36th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which is presenting the festival for the first time, announced the lineup for the June 14-15 event on Monday, reports the AP. George Benson and fellow smooth jazz guitarist Earl Klugh will headline the closing concert.
Saturday’s concert will pay tribute to Duke, the keyboardist, singer, composer and producer who headlined last year’s Playboy opener and was a frequent participant in the Los Angeles area’s biggest jazz event. Duke, 67, died of leukemia last August shortly after releasing his chart-topping contemporary jazz CD “Dreamweaver,” which included a straight-ahead acoustic jazz track featuring Clarke.
Jarreau first performed with Duke in the house band at San Francisco’s Half Note Club in the late ’60s and the keyboardist was featured on the singer’s 1981 album “Breakin’ Away.” Clarke and Duke recorded three groove-oriented albums together, including 1981′s “Clarke/Duke Project” with the R&B hit single “Sweet Baby.”
Comedian George Lopez said he’s “thrilled” to be hosting the Playboy festival again after taking over from long-time emcee Bill Cosby last year. “This year’s lineup of talent is unparalleled, and it’s going to be a great weekend of music,” Lopez said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. Saturday’s lineup includes singer Dianne Reeves, who featured her cousin Duke on several of her albums; pianist Kenny Barron’s trio with guest saxophonist Ravi Coltrane; trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s big band and British singer-pianist Jamie Cullum.
Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the “First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz”, and “Lady Ella”, was an American jazz vocalist with a vocal range spanning three octaves (D♭3 to D♭6). She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.
Fitzgerald was a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over the course of her 59-year recording career, she sold 40 million copies of her 70-plus albums, won 13 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.
As Google honors Ella with her own Google Doodle today (pictured left), learn more about her life and music on Wikipedia.org. Also, it is truly worth watching all seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds of the video below as Al Jarreau and Nancy Wilson honor Ella with a spectacular version of one of her biggest hits, “A Tisket, A Tasket” at the 1988 NAACP Image Awards. Then, after 71 year-old Fitzgerald receives her award, she sings a dynamic, swinging, commanding version of “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” that is not to be missed: