The incredibly talented Al Jarreau has passed away, at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 76.
Via the Chicago Tribune:
Jarreau was loosely classified as a jazz singer, but his eclectic style was entirely his own, polished through years of obscure apprenticeship in lonely nightclubs. He did not release his first album until 1975, when he was 35, but within two years he had won the first of his seven Grammy Awards and had begun to attract a wide following.
He was dubbed the "Acrobat of Scat" for the way he adopted the fast, wordless syllables of bebop jazz musicians, but he didn't limit himself to the musical backdrop of an earlier generation. His approach emphasized the percussion-heavy and electronically amplified sound of rhythm-and-blues and funk music, and he had a particular gift for mimicking almost any kind of musical instrument or sound.
"Jarreau imitates the electronic and percussive hardware of the 1970s," critic Robert Palmer wrote in Rolling Stone in 1979. "But he does more than that. He stands there and makes it all sound natural, singing so sweetly and unaffectedly you'd think he just happened on this remarkable vocal vocabulary."