Al Jarreau, a versatile
vocalist who sold millions of records and won a string of Grammys for his work
in pop and R&B as well as his first love, jazz, died on Sunday, 12 February 2017, in Los Angeles. He was 76.
His death was announced by
his manager, Joe Gordon, who said that Mr. Jarreau had been hospitalized for exhaustion two weeks ago. On the advice
of his doctors, he had canceled his tour dates and retired from touring.
Mr. Jarreau did not begin a
full-time musical career until he was nearly 30, but within a few years he had
begun attracting notice for a vocal
style that was both instantly appealing and highly unusual. Critics were
particularly taken by his improvisational
dexterity, in particular his virtuosic ability to produce an array of
vocalizations ranging from delicious nonsense to clicks and growls to
Although he made his
initial mark in the jazz world, Mr. Jarreau’s style, and his audience, crossed
stylistic barriers. His music incorporated elements of pop, soul, gospel, Latin
and other genres. It was a mark of his eclecticism
that he won six Grammys across three different categories: jazz, pop and
R&B. He was also among the performers on a Grammy-winning children’s album,
“In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record.”
If Mr. Jarreau’s highly
accessible, intensely personal style defied easy classification, that very
accessibility — and, perhaps, the mere fact of his considerable commercial
success — left some jazz purists skeptical.
Reviewing a concert by Mr.
Jarreau at theSavoy in New York in 1981,
Stephen Holden of The New York Times encapsulated what many saw as both the
pros and the cons of Mr. Jarreau’s singular style:
“Al Jarreau may be the most
technically gifted singer working in jazz-fusion today,” Mr. Holden wrote. Of
the evening’s performance, however, he continued: “Mr. Jarreau’s concert lacked
the emotional range of great jazz. He is such a prodigious talent that the
absence of even the slightest blues inflections kept his music from cutting
But critics’ reservations
never deterred Mr. Jarreau, who prided himself, as he told The Los Angeles
Times in 1986, on his “jazz attitude,” which he defined as “the idea of being
open to each and every moment as a chance to create something different.”
“I try to be receptive,” he
added, “and to be listening, and to not be afraid to try something new.”
Lopez Jarreauwas born in Milwaukee on 12 March 1940, into a
musical family. His father, a minister, was a fine singer; his mother played
the piano in church. Young Al began singing at 4, harmonizing with his
siblings. As a youth he sang in church, as well as with street-corner harmony groups and local jazz bands.
Mr. Jarreau earned a
bachelor’s degree in psychology from
Ripon College in Wisconsin in 1962,
and a master’s in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa in
1964. Afterward he moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a rehabilitation counselor for people
But Mr. Jarreau found he
could not resist the pull of jazz and before long was singing in local nightclubs. By the late ’60s, he had quit his day job and embarked on a nightclub career, first on the West Coast
and eventually in New York.
He reached a national
audience with the album “We got by,” released by
Warner Bros. in 1975 to critical praise and commercial
Though advertised as his
debut, it was actually his second album.
A decade earlier, Mr. Jarreau had quietly recorded an album, later released on
the Bainbridge label under the title
“1965.” Though Mr. Jarreau took legal action, without
success, to block its belated release in 1982, it is esteemed by jazz
Appearances on “Saturday
Night Live” and other television shows raised his profile, as did extensive
touring. In 1981 he had his biggest hit with the song “We’re in this love together,” which reached No. 15 on the Billboard pop singles
He won his first Grammy in 1978, for best jazz vocal performance, for his album “Look to the rainbow.”
He won his last in 2007, for best traditional R&B vocal performance; the
award was shared by Mr. Jarreau, George
Benson and Jill Scott for their collaborative performance “God bless the child.”
In between, in 1982, Mr. Jarreau earned a Grammy for
best pop vocal performance by a male artist for the title track of his album “Breakin’ away.” That year, he also received the Grammy for best
jazz vocal performance by a male artist, for his version of Dave Brubeck’s “Blue
Rondo à la Turk,” from the same album.
His other Grammys came in 1979 for the album “All Fly Home” (in
the jazz category), and in 1993 for
the album “Heaven and earth” (in R&B). A seventh Grammy came in 1981 for “In Harmony: A Sesame Street
Record,” a compilation children’s album that featured a range of artists.
Among Mr. Jarreau’s
best-known recordings was the theme song for the long-running television
series ‘Moonlighting,’ for
which he wrote the lyrics to Lee Holdridge’s music. He appeared on Broadway as
a replacement in the role of the Teen Angel in the 1994 revival of “Grease.”
Mr. Jarreau’s first
marriage, to Phyllis Hall, ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, the
former Susan Player; a son, Ryan; two brothers, Marshall and Appie; and a
sister, Rose Marie Freeman.
Mr. Jarreau canceled a
number of concert dates in 2010 after experiencing heart and breathing problems
during a European tour. He was hospitalized for 11 days but resumed his touring
schedule after his release, and had continued to perform until recently.
Shortly after his 2010
hospitalization, he said in an interview that his health problems had not been
as serious as reports suggested, but joked that he appreciated the attention
they received in the media because it proved that he was a celebrity. “I
figured,” he said, “‘Yeah, maybe I have arrived.’”
Keepnews and Jack Kadden contributed reporting.
Bobby Freeman, of ‘Do you want to dance,’ dies
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
13 February 2017
Bobby Freeman, whose ‘Do
you want to dance’ climbed the pop charts in 1958 and endured long afterward in
covers by the Mamas & Papas, Johnny Rivers, Beach Boys, the Ramones, Bette
Middler and others, died on 23 January
2017 at his home in Daly City, Calif. He was 76.
The cause was a heart
attack, his son Robert Freeman Jr. said on Monday, 13 February 2017. The death
had not been widely reported.
Mr. Freeman was still a
teenager when he wrote and recorded the song that became his signature. Sung
with infectious enthusiasm and featuring a driving Latin rhythm and a joyful
guitar solo, “Do
you want to dance” reached No.
5 on the Billboard singles chart.
An energetic showman and
dancer, Mr. Freeman was soon touring with FatsDomino and Jackie Wilson and appearing on television shows like “American
Bandstand” and “The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show.”
Mr. Freeman’s version of
“Do you want to dance” (also known as “Do you wanna dance?,” with and without the question mark) embodied the spirit of
early rock’n’roll, but the secret to the song’s longevity was that artists
interpreted it in myriad ways.
The Beach Boys reached No.
12 on the Billboard chart in 1965 with a typically up-tempo close-harmony
interpretation. John Lennon recorded a dreamy reggae version. The Ramones
ramped up Mr. Freeman’s energy to punk-rock levels. Both the Mamas & the Papas and Ms. Midler
slowed the song down; Bette Midler’s
version, a sensual ballad, reached No. 17 on the Billboard chart in 1973. She told
CBS News in 2006 that “Do you want to dance” was her favorite song.
The song was also featured
on the soundtrack of George Lucas’s rock ’n’ roll coming-of-age film “American
Parte inferior do formulário
Mr. Freeman was not a
one-hit wonder. “C’mon and swim” (1964) — a young Sly Stone was its producer
and a co-writer — reached No. 5 on
the Billboard chart. “Betty Lou got a new pair of shoes” (1958) also charted.
Robert Thomas Freeman was
born in Northern California on 13 June 1940, and raised in San Francisco. He
attended Mission High School there before joining the Romancers, a doo-wop
In addition to his son
Robert, his survivors include another son, Jerrald; his partner of 17 years,
Michele Ellen; two daughters, April Freeman and Nichole Hackett; and several
Mr. Freeman released a
handful of songs after 1964, but none became hits. He spent years performing at
clubs in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Las Vegas and other cities, and that
was fine with him.
“I’m just as content as I
could be with what I’m doing,” he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 1990. “I
have no complaints whatsoever.”
Susan C. Beachy contributed research.
Bob Freeman on the television show 'Shindig' in 1964.
I remember the very first time I ever heard about The Beatles. It was in the first semester of 1964. I lived on Rua Simpatia, 103 in Vila Madalena, a suburb of São Paulo that would go upmarket in the 1990s but it was pretty much a working class neighbourhood then.
Three houses up from ours was a grocery store owned by Massao Tsutsui minded by his oldest son Walter Teruo Tsutsui who was 16 years old and much interested in music and movies. Walter showed me a newspaper in which there was a big picture of The Beatles with an article about their having taken the U.S.A. by storm. I did not actually heard them sing then but only saw some pictures of their 'mop-top' hair.
I had been more interested in Italian rocking teen-ager Rita Pavone and didn't think much about the Fab-4. Next thing I heard 'I want to hold your hand' which I thought good but nothing really out of the ordinary. I was more into Italian rock than British rock.
The first time I really thought The Beatles were something out-of-the-ordinary was when I saw 'A hard day's night' (Os reis do ié ié ié) and fell in love with the song 'If I fell'. I couldn't have enough of John and Paul's wonderful harmony. I went out and bought the album... this must have been around March 1965 for the movie premiered on 28 February 1965 at Cine Metropole in Sao Paulo.
In 1966 I was in for another shock when I heard the album 'Rubber Soul' and fell in love with John Lennon's 'Girl'. Something moved me deep inside and I knew that that was pure genius. Later in 1966, after listening to 'Eleanor Rigby' with its string-quartet I knew I could not dismiss The Beatles as just 'another act'.
In early 1967, I met Paulo Naoto Tyba at Vila Madalena's High School... Paulo was a serious Beatle-fan... During our July winter-school-holidays Paulo came home with a copy of 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonley Hearts Club Band'... At first I couldn't make head or tails of such a monstruos ouvre. But when the needle approached the last track of side one... 'A day in the life'... well, what could I say?
Paulo was instrumental in introducing all those earlier Beatles songs I had never heard because when those albums were out I was deep into Italian pop music so I missed all that. Paulo who used to be in and out of rock bands gave myself and my younger brother a 'fast course' on Beatles repertoire. Songs like 'Ask me why', 'Baby, it's you', 'P.S.: I love you', 'There's a place', 'Till there was you', 'I don't want to spoil the party' and even songs like 'Baby's in black' and 'She's a woman' that had not been released in Brazil until that time.