387

Al Jarreau: The Very Best of: An Excellent Adventure

Jeff Winbush By

Sign in to view read count
Al Jarreau: The Very Best of: An Excellent Adventure Al Jarreau is the most successful jazz singer of his time and has enjoyed a career that spans four decades. Oddly though, Jarreau has been never been represented with a career-spanning compilation, and his fans have been patiently waiting for a comprehensive overview.

They will have to keep waiting. An Excellent Adventure casts a wider net than the now out-of-print Best of Al Jarreau (Warner Brothers, 1996), but with only 16 tracks is far from definitive. There's too much good stuff missing; "Since I Fell For You," with Bob James and David Sanborn, and Jarreau's duet with Oleta Adams, "Waters of March," are two cuts that should be here. There is nothing at all from All Fly Home (Warner Bros., 1987), L is For Lover (Warner Bros., 1986), Tenderness (Reprise, 1994) or Heaven and Earth (Reprise, 1992). For the hardcore fan these are conspicuous omissions, but for those looking to scratch a bit deeper than just Jarreau's hits, An Excellent Adventure is as good as it gets for now.

Everything that might be expected on a retrospective of this seven-time Grammy-winning vocalist is here, including "Roof Garden," "We're In This Love Together," "Mornin'" and "Boogie Down." Two welcome additions Jarreau's "Just To Be Loved," from Tomorrow Today (GRP, 2000), and "Cold Duck," from Accentuate the Positive (GRP, 2004) featuring bassist Christian McBride.

The earlier Best of Al Jarreau collection had 16 songs. An Excellent Adventure does as well, but here compilation producer Fiona Frawley makes the smart decision to go deeper by including 1975's "We Got By" from the Reprise album of the same name, and "Rainbow In Your Eyes," from Glow (Reprise, 1976). These two selections serve as reminders of Jarreau's early jazz roots and act as bridges between his early jazz recordings and later mainstream R&B and pop hits.

Finally, Jarreau's vocal tour de force, "(Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo A La Turk," is the ultimate showcase of his scatting skills and perfect phrasing. A lot of vocalists would tie their tongues into knots trying to pull off what Jarreau does with the Dave Brubeck classic. The Grammy that Jarreau took home for Best Male Jazz Vocal Performance, for this astonishingly bravura performance, was well-deserved.

There are a few problems that keep An Excellent Adventure from perfection. The most obvious one is the clunky and disappointing closer, "Excellent Adventure," a new recording which isn't the least bit excellent and sounding like a leftover from one of Jarreau's less inspired sessions. Frawley's decision not to sequence the songs chronologically is puzzling, as are the omission of any credits for musicians for the other 15 tracks.

Jarreau's discography is rich and varied enough to easily justify a multi-disc or box set. While it's nice to hear the digital remastering of Jarreau's songs, An Excellent Adventure is too piecemeal to truly be "the very best" of Al Jarreau. Hopefully, one day, Warner Brothers will see fit to produce the truly comprehensive representation of Jarreau's career that he deserves.


Track Listing: After All; Moonlighting; Never Givin' Up; Roof Garden; Spain (I Can Recall); Take Five (edit); We're In This Love Together; Rainbow In Your Eyes; Just to Be Loved; Cold Duck; We Got By; Boogie Down; (Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo A La Turk; Mornin'; So Good; Excellent Adventure.

Personnel: Al Jarreau: vocals. Various musicians, including: Randy Bowland: guitar (16); Adam Blackstone: bass (16); Chris Farr: sax (16); Matt Cappy: trumpet (16); James Poyser: keyboards (16); Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson: drums (16); Dan Sadownick: percussion (16); Mercedes Martinez: backing vocals (16).

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Rhino Records | Style: Vocal


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Checking Out" CD/LP/Track Review Checking Out
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "With Due Respect" CD/LP/Track Review With Due Respect
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 23, 2016
Read "Out 'N' In" CD/LP/Track Review Out 'N' In
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "It's The Peace That Deafens" CD/LP/Track Review It's The Peace That Deafens
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Out Of The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of The Blue
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!