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  • Writer's pictureJazzLover

"Jarreau" A Musical Masterpiece

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

"Jarreau," Al Jarreau's sixth studio album, stands as a testament to the singer's exceptional musical talent and artistic versatility. The album represents a significant evolution in Jarreau's sound, characterized by the fusion of jazz, pop, and soul, and distinguished by his unique vocal techniques.


Al Jarreau "Jarreau" album cover

The Making of "Jarreau"

The making of Al Jarreau's sixth studio album, "Jarreau", was a noteworthy milestone in his illustrious career. The journey began with Jarreau's vision of creating a musical masterpiece that would encapsulate his musical versatility and unique vocal techniques.


The creation process involved extensive collaboration with top-notch musicians and producers of the time. Producer Jay Graydon played a significant role in shaping the sound and direction of the album. Together, they aimed to create a rich, varied musical palette, blending elements of pop, jazz, and soul.

Each track was carefully crafted, ensuring that the songs embodied the themes Jarreau wanted to explore. The lyrics were written with great attention to detail, reflecting Jarreau's thoughts on love, life, and introspection.


Recording sessions were both intense and enlightening, with Jarreau's scat singing and vocal percussion techniques coming to the forefront. It was during these sessions that iconic tracks like "Mornin'" and "Boogie Down" were born.


The culmination of all these efforts resulted in "Jarreau," a multi-genre masterpiece that stood testament to Al Jarreau's genius. The album not only showcased his musical abilities but also revealed his personal and emotional depth, making it a cherished piece in his discography.


In a nutshell, the making of "Jarreau" was a process steeped in creativity, collaboration, and emotional exploration, reflecting Al Jarreau's dedication to his craft. Isn't it fascinating to see how such an influential album came to life?


Significant Tracks and Musical Themes

The "Jarreau" album is a rich tapestry of meaningful lyrics, unique musicality, and genre-blending tunes. Two tracks in particular stand out for their significance and popularity: "Mornin'" and "Boogie Down."

"Mornin'" is the opening track of the album and perhaps the most notable. Its upbeat tempo, catchy rhythm, and positive lyrics provide an instant appeal. The song's theme revolves around the joy of a new day and the optimism it brings, creating a truly refreshing listening experience. Jarreau's innovative use of scat singing, rhythmic timing, and vocal percussion techniques add a delightful uniqueness to the track.


On the other hand, "Boogie Down" is a feel-good tune that beautifully merges pop, jazz, and soul elements. Its funky rhythms and engaging lyrics make it a fan favorite. The song's theme is about letting go of inhibitions and embracing the joy of music and dance, thus leaving listeners uplifted and inspired.


Other significant tracks like "Black and Blues," "I Will Be Here for You," and "Save Me" also contribute to the album's unique charm and depth. Each song in the "Jarreau" album explores various themes, from love and life to introspection and personal growth.


The intertwining of these themes with a blend of pop, jazz, and soul elements results in a cohesive sound that remains unique to this album. "Jarreau" offers a profound mix of melodic tunes and thought-provoking lyrics that showcase Al Jarreau's artistic brilliance.



Critical Reception

Upon its release, "Jarreau" received widespread acclaim from critics for its innovative fusion of genres and Jarreau's incredible vocal capabilities. Critics appreciated the seamless blend of pop, jazz, and soul that made the album a delightful and refreshing listen.


The standout track "Mornin'" was particularly praised for its upbeat tempo, catchy melody, and positive lyrics, with critics highlighting it as a shining example of Jarreau's distinct sound. The innovative use of scat singing and vocal percussion throughout the album also drew significant attention and praise, demonstrating Jarreau's unique place in the musical landscape.


The lyrical depth of the album did not go unnoticed. Critics admired how Jarreau addressed themes of love, life, and introspection with such grace and poise. The emotional honesty in his songwriting allowed listeners to connect with the music on a deeper level.


In a broader sense, "Jarreau" was heralded for pushing the boundaries of popular music during its time. It proved that genre-blending could achieve commercial success and critical acclaim, thus setting a precedent for future artists.


The album's critical success reinforced Al Jarreau's status as a trailblazing artist whose creative prowess could not be confined within traditional musical boundaries.


Commercial Success

"Jarreau" marked a significant commercial achievement in Al Jarreau's career. Upon its release in 1983, the album quickly climbed the charts, indicating its instant appeal among listeners worldwide.


It peaked at number 13 on the Billboard 200, an impressive feat that demonstrated its widespread acceptance among a diverse audience. The album’s success wasn't just confined to pop listeners. It topped the Billboard Jazz charts, showcasing Jarreau's ability to cross boundaries and connect with fans of various music genres.


Moreover, the lead single "Mornin'" did exceptionally well, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts and number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. The success of "Boogie Down," another single from the album, further amplified the album's commercial appeal.


The album's commercial success solidified Al Jarreau's standing in the music industry. It was a testament to his musical versatility, the love and admiration from his fans, and his ability to create music that resonated with a broad audience.


Evolution of Al Jarreau’s Sound in "Jarreau"

The sixth studio album, "Jarreau," marked a significant evolution in Al Jarreau's sound. This evolution was characterized by a broader musical exploration and the refinement of his unique vocal techniques.

Prior to "Jarreau," Al Jarreau was primarily recognized for his jazz work. However, with this album, he expanded his musical palette, venturing into pop and soul territories. This fusion of pop, jazz, and soul resulted in a sound that was both contemporary and timeless, thereby broadening his appeal to a wider audience.


One of the most distinctive aspects of Al Jarreau's sound is his vocal style. Known for his unique scat singing and vocal percussion techniques, Jarreau further honed these skills in this album. Tracks like "Mornin'" and "Boogie Down" showcase his advanced use of these techniques, offering a unique listening experience that distinguishes him from his contemporaries.


Another element of Jarreau's evolved sound in this album was the deep emotional resonance in his lyrics. The songs reflected his contemplation on themes of love, life, and personal introspection. His nuanced and emotional delivery brought these themes to life, enabling listeners to connect with him on a deeper level.


Moreover, the album also saw Jarreau collaborating with a diverse range of musicians. This not only brought different musical perspectives but also challenged him to push his creative boundaries. The resultant sound was a rich tapestry of varied musical influences that still retained the distinctive Jarreau touch.


The Musicians

  • Al Jarreau – lead vocals, backing vocals (1, 3-6), rhythm arrangements (5, 6, 9)

  • Jay Graydon – guitars (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9), rhythm arrangements (1, 3-7, 9), synthesizers (5, 6), guitar solo (6)

  • David Foster – rhythm arrangements (1, 4), Fender Rhodes (1, 4), synthesizers (1, 4), acoustic piano (4)

  • Michael Omartian – rhythm arrangements (2), synthesizers (2), Fender Rhodes (5)

  • Steve George – synthesizers (3)

  • Robbie Buchanan – Fender Rhodes (3), synthesizers (5)

  • Abraham Laboriel – bass guitar (1, 2, 4-7, 9)

  • Jeff Porcaro – drums (1, 2, 4-7, 9)

  • Paulinho da Costa – percussion (1, 2, 4-7, 9)

  • Jerry Hey – trumpet (1, 2, 4-7, 9), flugelhorn (1, 2, 4-7, 9), horn arrangements (1, 2, 4-7, 9)

  • Gary Grant – trumpet (1, 2, 4-7, 9), flugelhorn (1, 2, 4-7, 9)

  • Larry Williams – saxophone (1, 2, 4-7, 9), flute (1, 2, 4-7, 9)

  • Kim Hutchcroft – saxophone (1, 2, 4-7, 9), flute (1, 2, 4-7, 9)

  • Bill Reichenbach Jr. – trombone (1, 2, 4-7, 9)


Commercially successful and critically acclaimed, "Jarreau" cemented Al Jarreau's position as a pioneering artist in the music industry. It showcased his ability to experiment and innovate, creating music that resonates with a wide audience while staying true to his artistic essence.


The album's enduring appeal, even years after its release, reflects the timeless quality of Jarreau's music. It serves as a reminder of the power of music to transcend boundaries and touch the hearts of listeners.



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