Title - 'Al Jarreau - Live At Montreux 1993'
Artist - Al Jarreau
Al Jarreau's stunning July 6th 1993 performance at The Montreux Jazz Festival was his 5th of 11 appearances at this prestigious event. A jazz singer, who since 1981 with his breakout hit 'We're In This Love Together', had reintroduced and revitalized the style of jazz singing known as vocalese or scatting, and was by 1993 now a global star.
Jarreau only actually made jazz his primary occupation in late 1968, for come 1969 he and acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez headed south, where Jarreau appeared in such Los Angeles hot spots as Dino's, The Troubadour, and Bitter End West. Television exposure would subsequently come from Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, and David Frost.
Al Jarreau - Live At Montreux 1993 showcases just what is so good about the man, because most artists would go to the famous Jazz Festival and slip easily into playing all their old and new hits. But not Jarreau. No. He did something rather different, for he used this concert experience as a launching pad for what would be his new, upcoming album. [In 1994, Jarreau released Tenderness (Warner Bros. Records), which was actually recorded live in a studio in front of an invited audience.]
OK, sure, he opened with a massive hit single from the day, and even included some old classics that he reworked in his own styling, but the other tracks were a pure, new delight for the packed house; of that have no doubt. But that is Jarreau all over, is it not. Some artists / bands when they showcase a new track simply means you head for the bathroom. But not with Jarreau, for every new note, every new sung lyric, created chorus, you hung on in there with him; knowing you were listening to something that would, without a shadow of a doubt, become a massive radio hit.
This quite stunning, truly live experience begins after the gentle applause has died down with 'We're In This Love Together' ("You know what this is? Sing along if you want to") his hit single from the enormous 1981 album Breakin' Away. In what would subsequently become the standard bearer of the L.A. pop and R&B sound, the track, let alone the entire album, is the go-to for all Jarreau fans. Otis Redding's 'Try A Little Tenderness' is next, and showcases the vocal love for these kind of songs that only Jarreau can produce, and that is backed by both the mid-tempo, and scat-packed, deep vocal bass tones of 'Summertime,' and then the always delightful 'We Got By' (although, as a Jarreau fan, my personal favorite version of this was his live in Hamburg, Germany rendition back in 1976).
'Mas Que Nada (off his aforementioned upcoming-at-the-time Tenderness live studio album), is Jarreau's homage to the 1963 original written and originally performed by Jorge Ben on his debut album; and which in a later cover version became the signature song of Sérgio Mendes. That is followed by 'She's Leaving Home,' from his 1978 album, All Fly Home (and which Jarreau went on to do with Marcus Miller on that upcoming new live album) is next, and is a summer's day delight to musically behold.
That's backed by the scat-happy, slap bass of 'You Don't See Me' (another stunner, but I still, of course, prefer his live in Hamburg, Germany version), and then the seven-time Grammy Award winning American jazz singer brings us the back-to-back delights of both the smooth jazz trumpet backbone of 'Save Your Love For Me' and a totally euphoric, uplifting 'Your Song.' The former also became a powerfully seductive duet with Nancy Wilson for the new album, the latter a brilliant cover of the Elton John classic.
The album then rounds out with a scat-heavy 'Alonzo,' which simply put, is one of Al Jarreau's many beautiful, and cleverly written jazz pieces from the album This Time, and then the funky jazz flow storytelling of 'Puddit (Put It Where You Want It)' ("Puddit it in your pocket, Puddit it in your shoe. Puddit it in your locket, In your kidney stew".) Funnily enough, this last track didn't actually appear on record until 2000 on his first GRP album.
Well known for his extensive use of scat singing, vocal bass, and vocal percussion, here on Al Jarreau - Live At Montreux 1993 he showcases those styles like they're going out of fashion! This is an incredible live show to behold, even now, some 23 years on. Sure, if I'm picky, I would have loved to have heard his last big hit, the Grammy-nominated theme to the 1980's American television show Moonlighting (for which he also wrote the lyrics), but released as a single in 1987 I can also see why it wouldn't have "fit" into this track listing on the night. Still, man, I wanna hear him sing that track right now - don't you?!