Our shared love of Al Jarreau goes back almost two decades. We were introduced to his music via the track ‘Roof Garden’ while studying at the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts in late 1997 and were immediately drawn to his remarkable, elastic voice and the sheer joie de vivre it exuded (not to mention the quite irresistible funkiness of the song in question).
For some crazy reason, we were actually paid to do the music course we were on, and, impetuous youths that we were, duly ploughed our newfound disposable income into building our fledgling vinyl collections. We’d spend almost every lunch hour rifling through the racks in Hairy Records on Bold Street (no longer there) and, among sundry other treats, made sure we acquired every Al Jarreau record we could get our hands on. Several of them – Jarreau (1983), This Time (1980), Breaking Away (1981) – remain among our all-time favourites, brimful of great songwriting, production, arranging and musicianship, all bound together by Al’s singular vocals and unerring sense of how to convey the emotion of a lyric.
So, as you can imagine, it was with no little excitement that we sat down to interview Al for the podcast some 15 years later. As those of you who’ve heard the episode will know, he did not disappoint, and the hour we spent in his company (and his longtime friend and musical director Joe Turano) is an experience we’ll never forget; Al was as joyful, good-humoured, eccentric, and wise as he was talented – and by god was he talented.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, Al, for the great music and memories, and for brightening our show with your presence. We’ll miss you.