Saturday, February 05, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
You can call him Al

With more than 35 years as a top recording artist and a number of radio hits to his credit, singer Al Jarreau likely needs no introduction to most readers of this site. Jarreau, who turns 71 next month, has performed in St. Louis many times, and he'll be back here next Friday, February 11 to play the Touhill Performing Arts Center under the auspices of Jazz St. Louis.

To mark the occasion, today we've got videos of four songs that have been concert staples of Jarreau's, with performances spanning the singer's four decades in the spotlight. First up is a performance of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," taken from a 1976 broadcast for German TV. It features Jarreau's touring band of the time, with Tom Canning on keyboards, Jerome Rimson on bass, and Nigel Wilkinson on drums, and though the overall contour of the performance is very similar to the recorded version, it's still fun to see and hear Jarreau let it hang out in front of a live audience.

Down below is a 1983 version of Chick Corea's "Spain", with a band including Dan Sawyer on guitar, Patches Stewart on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Weather Report's Alex Acuna on drums. The audio on this one isn't quite as good, but overall it's a very nice performance of what has become another signature arrangement for Jarreau.

Below that, there's a version of "Roof Garden" from the 1994 Warsaw Summer Jazz Days. The band here includes Steve Gadd on drums and the often underrated Neil Larsen on keyboards, but this performance is mostly about Jarreau having some fun doing a vocal impression of a funk guitarist.

We close things out with Jarreau's version of the standard "Since I Fell For You" from the 2008 North Sea Jazz Festival, done as a duet with singer Debbie Davis. This performance gets a bit loose in spots, but it also has some nice examples of Jarreau's still-elastic vocal timbre.

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