Virtuoso of Jazz, Al Jarreau, Dies at 76


Sunday morning, legendary vocalist Al Jarreau passed on to share his soothing melodies with the angels. The singer’s manager, Joe Gordon, released a statement announcing that Al’s death had occurred at 5:30AM in Los Angeles surrounded by the comfort of his wife and son, Susan and Ryan. Gordon also mentions Ryan’s request from those paying their condolences:

Ryan asks that no flowers or gifts are send to their home or office. Instead, if you are motivated to do so, please make a contribution to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music, a wonderful organization which supports music opportunities, teachers, and scholarships for students in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. A donation page is here. Even if you do not plan to contribute, please list that page and give yourself a few minutes to watch a beautiful tribute video that Wisconsin Public Television produced to honor Al when he received his lifetime achievement award in October.

His son’s recourse only reinforces the exemplary legacy of the musician. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Alwin Lopez Jarreau was the fifth of six children. He was a singer in his family church choir and even performed at Parent Teacher Association meetings with his mother at an early age, but his career as a singer began decades later. Before his fame, Jarreau received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and a Masters in Vocational Rehabilitation. His pleasure of jazz merely seemed like a hobby until he met fellow great George Duke in 1968. Shortly after he headed west to LA.

Jarreau began performing in nightclubs like Dino’s and The Troubadours, with an occasional television appearance on shows hosted by Merv Griffin or Dinah Shore, but it wasn’t long before his vivacious vibratos caught the attention of Warner Bros. which resulted in his first, critically claimed album We Got By. Jarreau expanded the boundaries of jazz, allowing the genre to seam a perfect stitch to Pop and R&B, adding his bee-pop cadence as embroidery. During his sensational career, Mr. Jarreau released sixteen studio albums, performed on Broadway, won seven Grammy’s, toured the world – but most importantly – advocated for the education of arts.

Watch The Wisconsin Foundation for School Music’s commemoration video to the versatile virtuoso Al Jarreau below.

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