Al Jarreau has nearly five decades of recording and performing to his credit. This seven time Grammy Award winner is the only vocalist in history to claim Grammys in three distinct genres of jazz, pop and R&B. The most recent recording is “Al Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest Live”, a collection of the best performances from a two-night engagement at the Theater aan de Parade, in Den Bosch, Netherlands. He is joined onstage by a 53-piece orchestra from northern Europe. The CD features 11 songs from Jarreau’s vast body of work, this time with full orchestral arrangements. The highlights are the Jobim composition Agua De Beber, the Ellington classic I’m Beginning to See the Light and the beautiful Corea/ Jarreau composition Spain (I Can Recall). Al said “A lot of people will have heard these songs before, but never in quite this way, this orchestra places them in an entirely new setting.” Listen and decide for yourself to this most enjoyable live recording.
Johnny Hartman, a critically acclaimed baritone jazz singer, is considered the quintessential romantic balladeer of our time. Born John Maurice Hartman on July 23, 1923, in Louisiana, he began singing and playing the piano at the age of eight. He grew up in Chicago and won a scholarship to study voice at the Chicago Musical College. After a tour of duty in the Army during WWII, in 1946 he won a singing contest and a one week engagement with Earl Hines at a Chicago nightclub. He sang with Hines for a year before joining Dizzy Gillespie’s big band. He also worked with pianist Erroll Garner before going solo in 1950. Johnny Hartman’s first solo album, Songs from the Heart was released in 1955. He joined with John Coltrane in 1963 for the only recording Coltrane did with a vocalist. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman features all ballads including “ Lush Life” and “My One And Only Love” and is considered a classic. He played cocktail lounges in New York and Chicago and travelled abroad. He recorded several albums in Japan, including a tribute to Coltrane after the sax player’s death in 1967. Hartman’s recording “Once In Every Life” earned him a 1981 Grammy nomination for Best Male Vocalist. This was followed by his last album of newly recorded material titled “This One’s for Tedi”, a tribute to his wife. In the early 1980’s he performed on television, radio and for several jazz festivals before succumbing to lung cancer at age sixty. His reputation exploded considerably in 1995 when the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood’s The Bridges of Madison County featured several songs from his Grammy nominated album. With a more recent demand for his masculine deep baritone, romantic ballads, all the music from his solo albums have been reissued. Though he did not receive the wider recognition he deserved, most will agree with Tony Bennett, who said in 2011 “Johnny Hartman is one of the great singers of all time”.
With over 37 recordings to her credit, the latest by Beegie Adair “The Real Thing” is highly recommended. This is a most enjoyable live recording, with great song selections and arrangements. The CD stands out because you can put it on and let it play, all 11 songs and you do not have to skip over any of them. Favorites are the Latin classic - Besame Mucho, the rarely recorded - The Lamp Is Low and Duke Ellington’s - Caravan. Beegie Adair is featured on the piano, Roger Spencer on the bass and Chris Brown on the drums. It was recorded over two nights at “The Cave” part of the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Beegie said, “We decided that our theme for the concerts would simply be the songs we love to perform, old chestnuts that we have played many times.” This recording is one you will love to listen to.