Thursday, February 16, 2017

Remembering Milwaukee Icon Al Jarreau

I'll always remember that smile
The days when we are forced to both mourn and celebrate someone's life are always sad. This week we celebrate the life of Al Jarreau, son of Milwaukee, who passed on February 12. Known most for his music, his unique jazz roots that he stretched to pop and other genres, and a master of scat, during his life his roots and love of Milwaukee were less known. Alas as too often happens, much of his greatest work, behind the scenes in the community, is coming to light. And even after his passing, his legacy continues on in our city.

Some artists are tied to the city they grew up in,  the Violent Femmes are known as a 'Milwaukee' band, even outside our state. Prince is known as a Minneapolis artist, there's all those Seattle bands from the '90's etc. Some downplay, or even transcend their root. I don't see it as a positive or negative trait. Sure its great to have a local force be recognized as from their city and in turn give it some cred, but sometimes its also not their fault, as much as they tout it it may just not catch on with media. Such is the case with Jarreau.

Though not overtly known as a 'Milwaukee' artist, it is said that at nearly every concert he mentioned our city and his love for it. He was born and grew up in Milwaukee, he sang in the church choir, he went to Lincoln High School and then Ripon College.

He had a big heart, and a love of helping others. He earned a master’s in vocational rehabilitation at the University of Iowa and that interest to help, to reahabilitate, to inspire never left even as he had an exceptional musical career that netted him seven Grammy awards and nominations for over a dozen more.

His family continues to honor his giving nature, they have asked people to forego sendign flowers and instead donate to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music.
Best known for "We're In This Love Together" and the theme song to Moonlighting (one of my all time fave shows), I will always remember that ever present smile.

Al was truly a Greater Milwaukee Man.