Alwin "Al" Lopez Jarreau is an American jazz singer, born in 1940. God Bless. He grew up the son of an adventist minister/singer and a church pianist mother. Growing up in the church singing is one of those classic but never-old stories.
Also, never thought I'd see this on an online source, even Wikipedia, but he was student council president. There's a whole bunch of other great stuff there about this living legend, but you can read that as you get time. I want to hear something.
Things start off surprisingly low key at the beginning, with "Cold Duck" that scats its way into understanding with just mild punch points. The live energy is surprisingly well translated into the recording. The funky nature just brings on the fun of the recording, clearly making this one of the top contenders in the game. What's even the most surprising here to me is the use of strings - all kinds. There's a more classical sound in the backing, but then this guitar takes hold of the lead for a little while and just takes on over.
"Jacaranda Bougainvillea" is very soft and sweet as it plays in. The balance still makes the vocals so much lower than the rest, but they float along a little nicely amongst the rest of it. I feel like this is something straight out of an old Disney movie though, wish some nice animated drawings all over the background of it and a cute little animal singing along.
Things are just slowly slinking their way along as we roll into "Flame," which is the first time I'm fully understanding the words. I get light singing to set the mood, but it's been tough throughout this so far. The horns in the back of this are sweet instead of obnoxious (admit it, brass gets that way). The story's even somewhat enhanced by the music in the background, something you don't always necessarily hear a big band truly 'get.'
"Agua De Beber" brings us back to a slight non-understanding of lyrics on my part, but a rumba beat that is just a lot of fun. Actually, the band could carry this themselves, if I'm being completely honest. They've got an understated tone to them that's just delightfully fun when you listen past the spattering into the microphone.
This one starts off so clearly, so nice, and devolves into a rounded-out voice that's swallowing every word in a way that's just plain hard to get used to. "Something That You Said" makes this honest attempt, and I can see the appeal. I can feel the energy that you want to receive from such a song. I feel like such a snob not completely loving it.
"We're In This Love Together" is classic and familiar in sound, no matter that horn voice I might be hearing. Everyone, from band to backups to leads, really is working together to make this song romantic and fun and reassuring. It's a truly great listen finally not his album, and the girl thing that, in the live setting, would have had me wishing for more to stay on the dance floor for the night.
We're brought back to the same familiar stylings vocally with "I'm Beginning To See The Light." Yah know what though, this band is solid and makes up for the vocals that just don't seem to be hitting my ears the right way. It's like Louis Armstrong is trying to come out, but I'm being picky and not appreciating it. Shame on me, but I know when I like something, and I like this band that I wish would just be the sole album focus.
"Midnight Sun" slows things way down, and for once everything, from soft tones to band dynamics, seems to fit together very nicely. This larger band seems to master the romantic soft light that's necessary for such a track. Even the trumpet in the background, which can often overpower everything else, knows its place in the gentle harmony that is this song's mood.
But then things turn completely back around to a total all-embracing scat number in "Scootcha-Booty." While I love the phrase, I think you can tell as well as I can that this song's not going to be up amongst my favorite not he record given my taste for the rest so far.
"After All" isn't the song I was hoping for. It's another gentle one, not bad for a closing out of the evening. It certainly sounds like things are winding down, with the backup singers even sounding more tired as the night has worn them down. The band remains lovely, but not lively. We don't seem to be aiming to go out with a bang on this one.
I'll admit it, if you're looking for a good big band arrangement in this style, "Spain (I Can Recall)" fits the bill well enough to earn a Grammy nod, so I see why it did. The exact nomination was for an instrumental arrangement to accompany a vocalist, and that's what this bad seems to excel at. It was a pleasure to hear this one end out the album.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Cold Duck"
- "We're In This Love Together"
- "Midnight Sun"
So you're not going to love them all, and I do apologize for harping on the one part fo this that just bothered me throughout. The music itself is very, very good, and I admire those that sit there and really give their hearts to it. Kudos to the band, for sure.