Hammond, Indiana – December, 2015

To all my friends at Kappa Alpha Psi: I want to send you a belated Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, for inviting me to sing at your scholarship fundraiser evening. I feel honored… This work that you’re doing to help kids go to school is quintessential. Education has always been the answer, and will continue to be the answer, until kingdom come. You can get on the wings of a book, and become a doctor, lawyer, or in another moment, you can be transported in a novel to another galaxy and time.  This is God’s work, and you guys have been doing it for more than thirty years. So thank you again for allowing me to add to your effort.


Al Jarreau

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Los Angeles – Monk Institute Vocalists Competition

If you don’t know about the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, you really should look it up for all its glorious details.  But for short, Thelonious Monk III, Maria Fisher, and Clark Terry created it in 1986 for the purpose of furthering the legacy of jazz by finding and educating young musicians and singers. Amazingly, they have also partnered with the United Nations to put on an international Jazz Day. Each year, on April 30, over 80 nations around the world celebrate jazz, and its contribution and influence.

I’ve been blessed to be a part of International Jazz day for a few years now.  Last April, we were in Paris. A couple of years before, we were in Istanbul. Herbie Hancock is Chairman of the Board and is an eloquent spokesman for the group. This year, along with featuring a wonderful group of singers in competition, the institute did a tribute to Quincy Jones, with a large audience with a 20 piece band directed and rehearsed by John Beasley at Dolby Theater, in Hollywood. Anyone has to say that this is a wonderful upscale undertaking that really does jazz proud, for its wonderful importance and significance. We did the preliminary judging at UCLA basking in the sunshine and glow of one of the great universities on the planet. All for jazz!

I can’t say enough about the whole affair, and it would take too long if I could. Just try to believe me when I say that you’d have totally impressed with this year’s group of singers, taught and tutored by a cadre of well known professionals, including Kenny Burrel.   They were amazing… knocked my socks off.

There were singers in this class who are already singing at a high quality professional level. It’s too bad that the competition forces us to pick one winner, and a second and third place place finalist, but in doing so we are also rewarding these leaders with valuable scholarships. Each of the judges wishes we could do it for all of the contestants. The semifinals we on Saturday, we had the finals of the singing competition on Sunday, along the tribute to Quincy Jones, featuring appearances and comments by actor/director/singer Seth McFarlane, Jeff Goldblum, Billy D. Williams, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Freddy Cole, Patti Austin, Deedee Bridgewater, Luciana Souza,  and myself. I did a duet with Gretchen Parlato (a recent winner of the vocal competition), of “Human Nature,” one of Quincy’s massive musical successes. All in all, this was a magnificent two day celebration of jazz and the legacy of jazz, with its special contribution of improvisation, that lives even in today’s rock guitarists. Hello, Eric Clapton, and Slash, too! They took the queue from jazz to improvise.

By the way, let’s not overlook the wonderful support of this event by Concord Music Group, United Airlines, and Northrup Grumman… these guys get it!

And so, as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we say “see you soon!” to the wonderful Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. This time, in Los Angeles and Hollywood, the world’s Mecca of stardom and entertainment. Smile 🙂

I’ll see you next time!


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Milwaukee – November fundraiser event

Chugga-Chugga-Chugga-Chugga-Choo-Choo! “Roll on, Milwaukee Road!”

Of course you know that song, I wrote it! It comes from the “Glow” album. The song is about me, the train, that was born in Milwaukee. Born out of my mama’s dreams.

So, anyway, I returned for a second time within two months to do a fundraiser for Gathering on the Green, and for the Tom Cheeks Scholarship Fund. Tom Cheeks was a brilliant teacher and adviser, who mentored and impacted several generations of students, educators, politicians, and mothers and fathers and families. It’s his legacy that we honor with this scholarship to educate teachers who commit to teaching in the Milwaukee system for at least five years. I, and scores of other young people, went on to collages and universities because of him.

I’ve sung other times at Gathering on the Green- a group that reaches lots of marginalized kids in center city, and other similar neighborhoods in the Milwaukee area. GOTG works to support STEAM programs in the schools… Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.  As the public school district cut back on their coverage these very important subjects, somebody has to fill the void.  That is Gathering on the Green’s mission… to help these kids have a chance.

A wonderful connection that you can call coincidence, serendipity, or the hand of God- that Beth is from the Harold Samson family. Papa Harold owned the Red Carpet Inn, where I sang as college student with the Les Czimber Trio, getting my feet wet on the first steps of the yellow brick road. And here we are, nearly fifty years later, meeting this way and under these circumstances, and thrilled to the bone. Rob, Beth and her team sent invitations to a wonderfully precious and select group of enlightened, community-minded heavy hitters, who have been friendly to the needy through the years. The situation and circumstances of that evening were wonderfully special, and cozy and warm. GOTG talked to the Ouzakee County Country Club, and found some open hearts that offered us their banquet room, with a full bar, which was elegant and relaxed at the same time. We talked early on and decided to make the appearance especially intimate and personal, by my performing as a duo with Joe Turano (Also from Milwaukee!). Joe’s been in the touring band for almost 15 years now, and we have just started performing as a duo. New stuff that shows a real close up view to what I am and what I do. It’s different, and it was a smash!!! People saw and heard things, in a different way, than ever before. And we raised a nice chunk of money, too.

A reception followed the performance, and it was fabulous, to say the least, to be here, at home, on an occasion like this. I looked up and saw John Givens and Auggie Ray, class of ’55 Lincoln High School (The first group of Tom’s Kids – Tom Cheeks). I almost yelled in surprise. When you have friends like this, there’s a secret, somewhere deep in the smiles and greetings, that is worth a billion dollars. GAWD I love that! Anyway, when you see Rob and Beth, tell them to pass along my thanks and gratitude to all the guests, and staff of the country club.


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Oh, you Buckeyes! How I love you Buckeyes! And yes, I know what a Buckeye is, it’s more than a football team.  Way bigger than a chestnut. Oops, sorry! Just havin’ fun. Fact: I know for sure that I’ve played more dates in the state of Ohio during my career than in any other state in the union. Fact: As Ohio goes, so goes the nation in so far as big important elections, while the hawkeyes of Iowa are right in there too. But their total population doesn’t approach the total population of Ohio voters and there’s a huge number of people from that population who have been Jarreau fans since the first record. They’ve come to concerts at Bogarts, Tri-City Jazz Festival, Ohio Theatre… etc …, oh, you Buckeyes, indeed! *See foot note*

Each and every time I’ve come to Cincinnati, I find myself exclaiming to myself, “Wow, they did it! They saved their down town! They kept their wonderful solid structures from the city’s early beginnings, including red brick warehouses, and lovely great buildings that housed the first businesses office buildings and department stores and restaurants and shops. They saved it!!!” And it feels so good to drive through down town and see PEOPLE! People going about their wonderful day of going to and from work, popping into a coffee shop, or John’s Hamburger Joint, which has been there for 50 years. This scene is disappearing in America. But ongratulations, Cincinnati- you did it, I love you for that. It makes me feel so good and reassured.

That’s what I felt last night, when I drove into town. When we got to the hotel, I saw Jackie, who surprised me and the guys. She is a very lovely wonderful rep. from the hotel’s front office. Her enthusiasm is so warm and gracious, that it really overflows.   And then when I went to my room, I looked out my window and “glory be,” there below me, was ice skating rink like Rockefeller Center Plaza in New York. I shouted to Brian, my assistant, “Look at that!” He smiled and also said, “wow.” Brian is from California and seeing people ice skate before his eyes was quite something; on the other hand,  it transports me to a time in Milwaukee, when I was in grade school, and junior high school, and was at a skating rink just like this. Not as fancy, they flooded the baseball field at Garfield Park, where they even had a pavilion where you could get a hot chocolate and warm up.

Show Day! I took a quick peek out the window, just to be sure the skating rink was still there. It was. And we headed off to sound check.

And there it was again, the spirit of Cincinnati! An old theater that’s been saved and kept functioning, AND this one’s with me and Jeffrey Osborne. One of you rascals out there is reading this and thinking, “yeah Al, old things still functioning.” And you’re right! You better believe it, baby. Bring your mama, bring your papa, we gonna do it for real. No lip-syncing, no pre-recorded anything. Real people doing it for real, with a happy healthy intention.

As I start singing “Mornin’,” I know that out there, somewhere, is some Sam Moore, from grade school and junior high school, and high school, and he was just in Milwaukee in the front row, with Jesse Nixon, and Willy Luster three weeks ago. I smile inside and feel warm and good. When he smiles and calls back to me, “yeah, Al, I’m here!”

I could hear Jeffrey and the audience from my dressing me, and believe me, the place was on fire. Jeffrey hits hard, folks. He’s got a big voice, with great range, and almost sounds classically trained with a funky edge. He’s a friend of George Duke’s, too. He sang on my new George Duke celebration record.

When we sang “My Old Friend,” I was kind of peeking over my shoulder to see if Jeffrey would come over and sing with me as he did on the record. Nope, not this time, but that did not stop me and the band from just “killing it” on this new sensitive arrangement of “My Old Friend.” Oh, by the way, check this out, here’s one for you, “My Old Friend” was written by the same guys who wrote “Nita Koo”: I will be here for you. Richard Paige and Steve George, originally from Pages, who became Mister Mister, and they are, in fact, a couple of blue-eyed, blonde haired “valley boys”, from Los Angeles. Don’t ya love it? You should.

We’ve returned to “We Got By,” and “Midnight Sun,” these days, and here is another audience that is right with us in lovin’ it all. That causes other stuff to sparkle, like old “Roof Garden,” and “Boogie Down.” We bowed a long time and headed for the lobby, to sign CD’s and autographs. This was a long one, but way cool that people are buying lots of CD’s after concerts. You can’t walk into a record store anymore. What a loss, but how wonderful tonight that we can sell CD’s right here after the gig. Great to say hi to Sam Moore and his son, who looks exactly like Sam, big broad smile, great spirit and attitude. We also said hi to Jackie’s son, all grown up now… 13 or 14, smile. So thank you again, Cincinnati, happy holidays, every day is Thanksgiving.


*Fact: I went to school at University of Iowa’s rehabilitation counseling program; however, I’ve only played three or four times in Iowa (all at the university) in my career since I started recording and touring.

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Cranston, RI

I love this time of year, which begins a four month long Christmas Eve Holiday season, that includes the golden harvest season, pumpkin orange, THANKS GIVING, Christmas carols and Christmas shopping, Christmas trees, the smell of nutmeg and cinnamon, and good things in the oven the night before Christmas. Now that’s a Christmas Eve!!! And of course, if you’re preparing some sort of Christmas Performance, you immediately begin practicing the day you get back to school, in September.

I’m so happy we did a lot of dates back East and in New England this fall. We watched the leaves turn and jackets and scarves come out of the closet.

I’ve found myself these days, talking to some new audiences. And I love that. I’m finally getting to some New England destinations for the first time, and feeling a long overdue satisfaction. New England people are a special breed, just like mid westerners, and Californians, and New Yorkers. I won’t try to describe the long list of specialnesses that set you apart from everyone else in the world, but the specialnesses are pretty fabulous, and will surely include clam chowder and evergreens. We rolled into Cranston around 12:30pm. Driving into Cranston, you say, “Oh, yes, this is America today. This is a great look at wonderful, beautiful middle class america!” Unvarnished, needing a few repairs, and a paint job, but it is in large part who we are. It’s who I am, and what I came from. Many of these people have a reliable old lunch pail at home, that helped pay college tuitions, and made us “upwardly mobile,” doing better than our moms and dads.  God bless our hearts when they showed up that night. I could see them, as I stood there in the wings, waiting to begin,  and I was so proud to be here my people!

Our first time here.  But when we hit the stage, it felt like we were old friends returning home. Hey, that’s the greatest and it’s happening a lot these days, as we meet new audiences for the first time, and play and sing with them the stuff they’ve been listening to  for thirty years. That experience occupies a special place in audience reactions and response that is really quite unlike anything else. Excuse the elaboration and oversimplification, but that audience situation is different than playing and performing, in front of an audience that sees me every sixteen months. There’s an “at last” sigh and response, that is a thing unto itself!

I’m remembering now pictures lining the backstage walls of Engelbert Humperdinck, The Wailers, Tower of Power, Boney James, Stanley Jordan, etc. They must have had the same reaction, including, “Wow, I can’t believe it! Let’s call the agency and get booked again as soon as possible.”

Well that was my reaction too. They rocked in their seats, and danced on their feets. And they pull encores out of me and the band as we stood with eyebrows raised to the hairline in surprise to this fantastic reaction. All grins and smiles.

Some people in the first row even had brought pristine LP’s of “Breakin’ Away,” “High Crime,” and “Look to the Rainbow,” that I did quick signatures on from stage. Later we did an hour long CD signing in the lobby. And that was great fun, really enjoyable. Here it was again, that sigh of “at last.” I could really feel it, y’all.

So I said, I’m looking forward to getting back to Cranston, and I’m grateful and thankful to my new found friends there. You really did spread the word about me very early on. Stay tuned and I’ll see you soon!

-Love Al

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Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Pronounced “Re-Ho-Beth,” with feeling, and wow are they proud of this very happening little atlantic seaboard “destination resort” community, that bursts at the seams during the summer, and warmish weather, spring or fall. It’s near D.C., and Baltimore, and you can even take a ferry boat over from New Jersey. And so this beautiful little 2 to 3 day festival has been a winner in this expanded neighborhood… for years. “Dread” greets us in the parking lot, with a big cool and casual smile. He’s a well known DJ announcer with dreads, and speckled with premature grey, and so the nick name. So cool! I’ll bet he even plays tenor, too. Mark Antoine and Steve Cole, guitarists and sax, are opening the evening, and they are on fire. I can hear them from back stage, causing bursts of shouting and clapping. “Hey, you guys, save a little of that for us!”  They were wonderful. Serious soloing. Dread introduces us, and away we go.
I grow more and more happy and appreciative with forty years of history, with lots of personal moments, with my audience of old time friends. Lots of these people know me from child herald. Just a great big house in a nice neighborhood of town. Then there’s Woodstock and Carter-Baron. Howard University and the D.A.R. Sometimes, with big festival shows, and other times on my own. Yeah!! That’s a history! I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
It’s always hard trying to decide a song selection, for these kinds of evenings. These people know every breath I take. I’m tempted to close my eyes and point at my song list, but instead, I spend 45 minutes pouring over my song list, feeling like I SHOULD have thrown darts at the page.
You cross your fingers and go! Soon, feeling so thankful and glad, of 40 years of stuff that people know. Joe Turano’s new arrangements really do sparkle and make me sing differently, and some how, that agitates the band in a different kind of way. The audience gets a newish kind of version of a song they know. We bounce along, and pretty soon, I’m showing off the cover of the new George Duke celebration CD. We enlarged it to be 18inches by 18inches! Right! Here comes my infomercial. We all chuckle, but then go quiet when Larry plays that beautiful, familiar acoustic piano run of delicious chords and notes, that are the signature, of this song, “My Old Friend”. For almost everybody, this is a first listen because we’ve never done it on tour before. We did another first, a hard stompin’, big bandish version of Joe Williams’s “Great City.”
We were obliged to do a quick Jazz Festival 75 minutes, but managed to squeeze in After All, Take Five, We’re in this Love Together, Boogie Down. Thank you everyone for your loyalty to my music, to me, and this style of music.
We signed CDs back stage, and hugged some special guests, and give a big round for Rehoboth Beach. A new setting for me. Thanks!
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