Seven-time Grammy winner Al Jarreau brings his smooth croon to Jorgensen's "Best of Connecticut" Cabaret on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12. The tireless performer, who has made music for five decades and counting, has distinguished himself by winning multiple Grammys in three musical genres - jazz, pop and R&B. Only the late Michael Jackson has achieved that same height - in rock, pop and R&B.
Jarreau and his quintet will treat Jorgensen audiences to early favorites, from hit albums "We Got By," "Glow" and "Look to the Rainbow," plus his biggest hits as he masterfully demonstrates his unique style as scat singer and vocal percussionist.
Time Magazine called Jarreau "the greatest jazz singer alive." He worked in LA and New York City, gaining national TV exposure with Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, David Frost and Mike Douglas and "spelled" emerging comics such as John Belushi and Bette Midler.
After world acclaim for his 1975 debut album, "We Got By," he won a German Grammy for Best New International Soloist and a second German Grammy for "Glow."
But the 1977 release of his double live recording "Look to the Rainbow" netted him his first Grammy, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. He won several others in three categories and the latest in 2007 for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "God Bless the Child."
No wonder the Chicago Tribune labeled Jarreau "the voice of versatility."
He may be best known for his 1987 Grammy-nominated theme song for the hit TV show "Moonlighting," with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. He also played Teen Angel in "Grease" on Broadway and has made guest appearances in Fox's "New York Undercover" and NBC's "Touched by an Angel."
The Milwaukee-born performer, son of a Seventh-Day Adventist minister and a church musician, has been performing since he was 4. He holds a degree in psychology and a master's from the University of Iowa in vocational rehabilitation, which he used to start out as a rehab counselor on the West Coast. But it wasn't long before he adopted music as his true calling, working the club scene in the ‘60s and launching his recording career in earnest in the ‘70s.
He released an album this year from those early days called "Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio, Live at the Half Note Club, 1965." He is also working on an album with the Metropole Orchestra of Holland to be released in 2012 and a new album of his own signature material.
Now a septuagenarian, he has done about 60 concerts this year in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the former Soviet states. He performs with Jazz for Japan, an all-star band working to raise funds for tsunami relief in Japan.
While on tour in the French Alps in 2010, Jarreau suffered arrhythmia and shortness of breath and was hospitalized, causing him to miss several concerts, a rarity for a man who had only missed one concert for health reasons in his whole career. Confusion led to the premature and viral reporting of his death, including one story saying he fell from the stage in performance. Such reports have resurfaced twice in online panics since then. Jarreau, in his signature ease and poise, told Jazz Times, "You know, I've never felt the need to jump off of any stage."
Within two weeks of treatment, Jarreau recorded "Double Face," which hit the top of the jazz charts throughout Europe and reached No. 2 on the Media Guide Jazz Chart in October.
Jarreau is featured in Jorgensen's Cabaret, winner of the "Best Cabaret" designation in Connecticut Magazine's "2011 Best of Connecticut" issue.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Doors open at 7 p.m. Sandwiches, dessert, alcohol and other beverages are available for cash. Regular tickets are $55 for table seats, $45, $38 and $34, with some discounts available. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., or order online at jorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.