“Spain” was the first song that I heard from this great legend. The first time I heard him, I was floored by his vocal ability to scat and jazz up a song. Since 1983, the year I got hooked with his records, I listened to one of his albums I owned in my collection at least once a month. It is just unfortunate that on the eve of Valentine’s Day, we lost Al Jarreau. It is quite ironic that he sang one of the most romantic songs of all times “After All.” Here is an excerpt on a tribute article from Time Magazine enumerating the reasons why he was the greatest jazz singer of all time.
“Few professional singers have used their instruments as playfully and as consummately as Alwin (“Al”) Lopez Jarreau did. The seven-time Grammy Award winning jazz artist, who died Sunday at the age of 76, took delight in exceeding the bounds of vocal decorum, launching into extended improvisational odysseys of cackles and caws and grunts and melodic runs where lesser singers would been content with a few trills and the odd “oh yeah.”
Among male singers of pure jazz—as opposed to showbiz icons like Tony Bennett, whose repertoires veer from jazz into Broadway, pop standards and the Great American Songbook—Jarreau had no equal. On stage, he eschewed the self-importance and studied seriousness that many jazz artists have for a desire to have fun with the form, and that in turn sprang from a desire to use his voice as an instrument of joyful healing. A statement on his web site says that music was only his second priority. His first, fittingly for a man who began his career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, “was healing or comforting anyone in need … He needed to see a warm, affirming smile where there had not been one before. Song was just his tool for making that happen.”
You can read the entire article on this link.