Written By Renard Roberts
For the 25th anniversary of Arizona Music Fest, jazz legend, Al Jarreau will be performing at the Highlands Church in Scottsdale, February 5. Known as one of the best vocalist to do jazz and R&B, Jarreau has received many awards, has been inducted into multiple performing arts halls of fame. Before he makes his stop here, we talked to Al about his recent enterprises and passion for music.
AZI: This past year you were all over the place, at 75 how do you keep on going?
AJ: It’s the passion for the music, I am blessed to be able to continue doing the thing I love to do, and I’m going to continue until they drag me off.
AZI: Your last album was dedicated to George Duke. Talk about his impact on you and also music as a whole.
AJ: George loved doing what he did. He had a broad love for music, investigated it, and really listened to it. He said that you should never limit yourself when it comes to music. Breathe it all in, let it influence you, and most importantly enjoy it.
AZI: When you started your career as an artist, jazz was at the forefront, now hip-hop and R&B have really taken off, what is your opinion on music today?
AJ: I’ve always made music that was jazzy, pop’y, and R&B’y, but the musicians and I were the ones creating the music. Now you can just press a button and the sound comes out. Sampling everything endangers the music. It destroys ingenuity and inventiveness.
AZI: In the album, you are working with many jazz veterans (Gerald Albright, Boney James, Lalah Hathaway). Talk about your experiences with these artist.
AJ: It was a joyous occasion. People doing the music because of the love for it. We take a minute to look how far we have come and say how lucky we are. It’s nothing like when the drummer kicks a beat and you create the sounds. You know I started beat boxing, Al Jarreau that’s me.
AZI: You have done a lot of work with the youth recently, talk about that, and also what is the importance for you to connect children to music?
AJ: Every musician hopes to have a moment. People who do music have a sparkle in their eye. That sparkle I will bottle and sell to the world. Music is the magic that can change people. I want children to get that sense of magic from music. There is nothing like seeing the joy of a child pick up an instrument and play a song.
AZI: In your bio, it says that you particularly enjoy performing at non-typical venues, and that you like to see that music is not restricted to theaters, clubs, and arenas. Why is that?
AJ: The first 25 years of my life I sang in church. Enjoying, reaching out to people in the first row. You don’t get that when your 80 yards away from the front. I like intimacy so during my show we find ways to bring people in. I am coming to Arizona with music from 1975, music from the middle of my career, as well as new music. I’m going to demand the crowd sings with me, and we will all experience it together.