March 12, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 82: Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away & scat

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP, front cover
cover photo by Susan Jarreau
art design by Christine Sauers
photo of cover by Styrous®

Al Jarreau was born on this day, March 12, in 1940. He died last month on Sunday, February 12, 2017, exactly one month short of his birthday. He would have been 77 years old.     

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP, back cover
back cover photo by Susan Jarreau
art design by Christine Sauers 
photo of back cover by Styrous®

My favorite song from his album, Breakin' Away, is his translation of the 1959 jazz classic by Dave Brubeck, Blue Rondo à la Turk. I don't call it a cover or a rendition as the song is originally an instrumental piece of music to which Jarreau wrote lyrics.  

Blue Rondo à la Turk is a jazz standard composition which appeared on the album by Brubeck, Time Out. It is written in 9
time, with one side theme in 4
, and the choice of rhythm was inspired by the Turkish aksak time signatures. It was originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond playing alto saxophone, Eugene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello doing some really cool drum work.  

Jarreau's version is as fast and syncopated but more erratic, jerky and not as smooth as the original version by Brubeck. However, his incorporation of scat with his lyrics is astounding.   

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP, record sleeve front
art design by Christine Sauers
photo by Styrous®

A little scat

The 1926 recording by Louis Armstrong of Heebie Jeebies is often cited as the first song to employ scatting but there are earlier examples. One early master of ragtime scat singing was Gene Greene who recorded scat choruses in his song King of the Bungaloos and several others between 1911 and 1917. Al Jolson scatted through a few bars in the middle of his 1911 recording of That Haunting Melody. The 1917, From Here to Shanghai, by Gene Green featured faux-Chinese scatting, and in 1924, Scissor Grinder Joe and Some of These Days by Gene Rodemich pre-date Armstrong. Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards scatted an interlude on his 1923, Old Fashioned Love, in lieu of using an instrumental soloist. Harry Barris, one of Paul Whiteman's "The Rhythm Boys", along with Bing Crosby, scatted on several songs, including Mississippi Mud, which Barris wrote in 1927. One of the early female singers to use scat was Aileen Stanley, who included it at the end of a duet with Billy Murray in their hit 1924 recording of It Had To Be You (Victor 19373).   

Jelly Roll Morton credited Joe Sims of Vicksburg, Mississippi, as the creator of scat around the turn of the 20th century.     

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP, record sleeve back
art design by Christine Sauers
photo by Styrous®

However, my very most favorite scat song EVER is the incredible, How High the Moon, by the Queen of Jazz, none other than Lady Ella, Ella Fitzgerald from her 1960 live concert album, Ella in Berlin: Mack the Knife. Oh, my lord! It is an amazing feat of 7 minutes of vocal gymnastics!  

Ella starts out with a traditional jazz vocal in a fast tempo that is truly beautiful and graceful, as only she could do, with improvisation that is marvelous. Suddenly she breaks into scat then swoops and soars like a humming bird at breakneck speed! It is astonishing!   

The performance was on February 13, 1960, at the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin, Germany. To have been there to hear it live must have been a fantasy ride to heaven. Those lucky people!   

Ella in Berlin was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance." And significance this album has a-plenty. There has never been an album like this one and I doubt there ever will.    

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP, back cover detail
art design by Christine Sauers
detail photo by Styrous®

Jarreau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jarreau attended Ripon College, where he also sang with a group called the Indigos. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. Two years later, in 1964, he earned a master's degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa. Jarreau also worked as a rehabilitation counselor in San Francisco, and moonlighted with a jazz trio headed by George Duke. In 1967, he joined forces with acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez. The duo became the star attraction at a small Sausalito night club called Gatsby's.   

In 1969, Jarreau and Martinez went to Los Angeles and Jarreau appeared at Dino's, The Troubadour, and Bitter End West. He made television appearances with Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore and David Frost. He performed at The Improv between the acts of rising-star comics as Bette Midler, Jimmie Walker, and John Belushi. During this period, he became involved with the United Church of Religious Science and the Church of Scientology, but he later dissociated from Scientology. Also, roughly at the same time, he began writing his own lyrics, finding that his Christian spirituality began to influence his work.   

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP, back cover detail
art design by Christine Sauers
detail photo by Styrous®

Al Jarreau received a total of seven Grammy Awards and was also nominated for over a dozen others. 

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP label, side 1
photo by Styrous®

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away
vinyl LP label, side 2
photo by Styrous®

On February 8, 2017, in Los Angeles, Jarreau cancelled his remaining 2017 tour dates. He died of respiratory failure, at the age of 76, just two days after announcing his retirement.    

Side 1:

1 - Closer To Your Love - written by Al Jarreau, Jay Graydon, Tom Canning - 3:54

2 - My Old Friend - written by John Lang (2), Richard Page, Steve George - 4:26

3 - We're In This Love Together - written by Keith Stegall, Roger Murrah - 3:44

4 - Easy - written by Al Jarreau, Jay Graydon, Tom Canning - 5:23

5 - Our Love - written by Al Jarreau, Jay Graydon, Tom Canning - 3:53

Side 2:

1 - Breakin' Away - written by Al Jarreau, Jay Graydon, Tom Canning - 4:12

2 - Roof Garden - written by Al Jarreau, Jay Graydon, Tom Canning - 6:19

3 - (Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo à la Turk, Lyrics By Al Jarreau, Music By Dave Brubeck - 4:44

4 - Teach Me Tonight - written by Gene De Paul*, Sammy Cahn - 4:13

Al Jarreau ~ Breakin' Away       
Label: Warner Bros. Records ‎– BSK 3576
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Jacksonville Pressing
Country: US
Released: 1981
Genre: Jazz, Funk
Style: Soul

Companies, etc.

    Pressed By – Capitol Records Pressing Plant, Jacksonville
    Recorded At – Dawnbreaker Studios
    Recorded At – Sunset Sound
    Recorded At – The Pasha Music House
    Overdubbed At – Garden Rake Studio
    Mixed At – Garden Rake Studio
    Mastered At – A&M Studios
    Phonographic Copyright (p) – Warner Bros. Records Inc.
    Copyright (c) – Warner Bros. Records Inc.
    Published By – Aljarreau Music
    Published By – Desperate Music
    Published By – Garden Rake Music, Inc.
    Published By – Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
    Published By – Entente Music
    Published By – Blackwood Music Inc.
    Published By – Magic Castle Music, Inc.
    Published By – Derry Music
    Published By – MCA Music
    Published By – Cahn Music Co.
    Published By – Hub Music Co.


    Alto Saxophone – Lon Price (tracks: A3, B4)
    Arranged By [Horns] – Jerry Hey (tracks: B1, B2)
    Arranged By [Rhythm] – Al Jarreau (tracks: A1 to B2, B4), Jay Graydon (tracks: A1 to B2, B4), Tom Canning (tracks: A1 to B2, B4)
    Arranged By [Rhythm], Piano – Milchio Leviev* (tracks: B3)
    Arranged By [Strings] – Billy Byers (tracks: B4), David Foster (tracks: A5)
    Arranged By [Vocals] – Al Jarreau (tracks: B3), Jay Graydon (tracks: B3), Tom Canning (tracks: B3)
    Art Direction, Design – Christine Sauers
    Backing Vocals – Al Jarreau (tracks: A1, A3 to B2, B4), Bill Champlin (tracks: B2), Richard Page (tracks: A2, A5, B2), Steve George (tracks: A2, A5, B2)
    Bass – Abe Laboriel* (tracks: A1 to A5, B2 to B4), Neil Steubenhaus* (tracks: B1)
    Contractor – Frank De Caro*
    Drums – Jeff Porcaro (tracks: B1), Steve Gadd (tracks: A1 to A5, B2 to B4)
    Electric Guitar – Dean Parks (tracks: B4), Jay Graydon (tracks: A1 to B2, B4), Steve Lukather (tracks: A2, A3)
    Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – David Foster (tracks: A2,), David Foster (tracks: A5, B1), George Duke (tracks: B2), Michael Omartian (tracks: A3), Tom Canning (tracks: A1, A4, B4)
    Engineer – Joe Bogan
    Engineer [Second On "breakin' Away"] – Csaba Petocz, Mikey Davis
    Engineer [Second] – Debbie Thompson
    Flugelhorn – Jerry Hey (tracks: A2)
    Horns – Tom Scott (tracks: A1)
    Mastered By – Bernie Grundman
    Mixed By – Jay Graydon
    Percussion – Bob Zimmitti (tracks: A4)
    Photography By – Susan Jarreau
    Piano – David Foster (tracks: A2), David Foster (tracks: A5, B1), Tom Canning (tracks: A1)
    Producer – Jay Graydon
    Producer [Associate] – Tom Canning
    Programmed By – Jay Graydon (tracks: A1, A2), Michael Boddicker (tracks: A2, B3)
    Recorded By [Basic Track] – Larry Brown (tracks: B1)
    Recorded By [Strings] – Humberto Garcia*
    Synthesizer – David Foster (tracks: A2, A5, B1), Larry Williams (tracks: A4), Michael Boddicker (tracks: A3 to B1, B3), Michael Omartian (tracks: A3), Peter Robinson (tracks: A4), Tom Canning (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B3)
    Trombone – Bill Reichenbach (2) (tracks: B1, B2)
    Trumpet – Chuck Findley (tracks: B1, B2), Jerry Hey (tracks: B1, B2)
    Vocals [Uncredited] – Al Jarreau


Lyrics and credits on inner sleeve.
Basic tracks recorded at Dawnbreaker Studios, San Fernando, Calif. Overdubs and mixing at Garden Rake Studios, Studio City, Calif. Strings Recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, Calif. Basic track for Breakin' Away recorded at Pasha Music, Hollywood, Calif. Mastered at A&M Studios, Hollywood, Calif.

© & ℗ Warner Bros. Records Inc.
All songs published by Aljarreau Music/Desperate Music/Garden Rake Music BMI except
A2 published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp/Entente Music BMI
A3 published by Blackwood Music, Inc/Magic Castle Music, Inc. BMI
B3 published by Derry Music Co/Aljarreau Music BMI
B4 published by MCA Music/Cahn Music Co./Hub Music Co. ASCAP
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Barcode (Text): 0 7599-23576-1
    Barcode (Scanned): 075992357616
    Matrix / Runout (Etched Side One 0 Stamped, Variant 1): BSK-1-3576-JW5 0
    Matrix / Runout (Etched Side Two 0 Stamped, Variant 1): BSK-2-3576-JW3 0
    Matrix / Runout (Etched Side One 0 Stamped, Variant 2): BSK-1-3576-JW6 #2
    Matrix / Runout (Etched Side Two 0 Stamped, Variant 2): BSK-2-3576-JW3 #3

Net links:          
Al Jarreau Discography 
Blue Rondo A La Turk (Round, Round, Round) lyrics           
Grammy Awards          
YouTube links:    
Al Jarreau - Blue Rondo à la Turk      
Dave Brubeck - Blue Rondo à la Turk on      
Louis Armstrong ~ Heebie Jeebies 1926     
Gene Greene ~ King of the Bungaloos       
Al Jolson ~ That Haunting Melody        
Billy Murray & Aileen Stanley ~  It Had To Be You       
Ella Fitzgerald ~ How High the Moon    

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