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R&B - Released July 14, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Released in 1981, Breakin' Away is not only a great follow-up to This Time, it all but perfected the effort. With an amazing batch of songs, producer/artist chemistry, and top-level players, Breakin' Away became the standard bearer of the L.A. pop and R&B sound. "Closer to Your Love" comes off as a tougher, more confident version of the songs from the previous album. However, in short order, Breakin' Away assumes its own identity with brilliant results. Everything works so well here that the hit, the pleasing "We're in This Love Together," comes off as the weak link. "Easy," with its gorgeous and subtle Latin flourishes, has Jarreau's purposeful delivery coming off oddly poignant in its joy and beauty. The bittersweet "My Old Friend" has him giving a charming and understated reading with gorgeous synth signatures that speak volumes. Most of Breakin' Away has Jarreau in great spirits and giving one great performance after another, like the powerful and melody-rich title song. Like his best albums, this gives Jarreau plenty of room to exercise his chops. He struts through the funky and elegant "Roof Garden," and on the impressive "(Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo a la Turk" he offers great scats and whimsical lyrics. For the final track, Jarreau brings new life to "Teach Me Tonight" and it has a sweeping, dreamy arrangement. Produced by Jay Graydon, Breakin' Away is a great album and informed a lot of Jarreau's subsequent efforts. © Jason Elias /TiVo
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R&B - Released June 15, 1976 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
A good session, though the gimmicks are kicking in. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 8, 2008 | Rhino

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Pop - Released August 5, 1988 | Reprise

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released July 21, 2014 | Concord Records

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Al Jarreau got his start playing in a jazz trio led by pianist/keyboardist George Duke, so it is fitting that Jarreau pays tribute to Duke, who passed away in 2013, on his 2014 album My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke. It was while working as a vocal rehab counselor at a hospital in San Francisco in the late '60s that Jarreau began singing with Duke's trio. It was also due in part to the popularity of these early performances that both musicians' storied solo careers were launched. On My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke, Jarreau delves into a batch of Duke compositions with a select group of guest artists, many of whom also had connections to Duke. Joining Jarreau here are such luminaries as Gerald Albright, Lalah Hathaway, Jeffrey Osborne, Dianne Reeves, and others. Similarly, backing Jarreau at various times is a superb ensemble of musicians including bassist Stanley Clarke (who also produced the album), keyboardists John Beasley and Patrice Rushen, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., and drummer John "J.R." Robinson. In fact, Duke himself makes an appearance here via the wonders of modern technology on the languidly romantic "Bring Me Joy." Elsewhere, Jarreau turns his sonorous, joyful voice to such Duke songs as "Sweet Baby," "No Rhyme, No Reason," "You Touch My Brain," and more. Ultimately, My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke is a heartfelt tribute album that, as with many of Jarreau and Duke's previous albums, feels fresh, warm, and full of love. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 8, 2008 | Rhino

Having broken through into the pop Top Ten albums with producer Jay Graydon and Breakin' Away, Jarreau had found his commercial groove, and it was potent enough to sustain him at least through the eponymously titled follow-up album. Again, strong, often self-co-composed material, and catchy, radio-friendly arrangements with lots of synthesizers would be the strong suit of this album, front-loaded by two large-scale R&B hits, the cheery "Mornin'" and the footstomping "Boogie Down," that would be part of his concert repertoire forever more ("Save Me" is also in their league). The backing comes from a coterie of L.A. pros who kick in more energy than what one would normally expect; it must be the material that fired 'em up. In other words, this is a really good R&B album, almost a great one, with the one caveat being that Jarreau's unique vocal abilities aren't remotely challenged; this could conceivably have been cut by almost any skilled R&B singer. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 29, 2009 | Rhino

Vocalist Al Jarreau is one of the most successful singers in history. He has scored hits on Billboard's Jazz, R&B, Adult Contemporary, and Contemporary Jazz charts. He's won multiple Grammys and sold millions of records. Rhino has assembled 15 tracks that represent his long career with Warner Brothers and even cross-licensed a couple from Universal's GRP and Verve imprints. In addition to the 15 career-spanning cuts ranging roughly from 1975 to 1988 with a couple of tunes thrown in from the current decade, there is a new song entitled "Excellent Adventure," produced by the team of Amhir "?uestlove" Thompson and James Poyser, the same pair that produced Al Green's successful Lay It Down. Fiona Frawley assembled this compilation and did a stellar job, including not only all the chart hits, but those that truly represent Jarreau's range as a singer and composer. There is an edited version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" here from his successful 1977 album Look to the Rainbow LP, as well as "We Got By," from his self-titled debut album. There are three cuts from 1981's multi-platinum Breaking Away, and his monster theme from the television series Moonlighting. But it's the inclusion of several tracks such as Chick Corea's "Spain," from 1980's This Time album, and Eddie Harris's "Cold Duck," from his 2004 set Accentuate the Positive that make this a special compilation -- neither cut made the charts, but both are nonetheless representative, even signature performances in Jarreau's recording career. Fans who already have comps can ditch them for this, and those who are curious would do well to actually begin their education with The Very Best Of: An Excellent Adventure. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 8, 2008 | Rhino

Rather than do a strictly studio or strictly live album next, Jarreau recorded a "live in the studio" affair before an invited audience -- and this time he would not be bothered with the latest new mediocre R&B tunes. Spreading his net from the Gershwins through Lennon-McCartney to Jorge Ben, Elton John and himself, Jarreau assembled a core band that includes vets like Joe Sample, Steve Gadd, the late Eric Gale, and producer Marcus Miller and turned himself loose on the songs with a freedom that hasn't been heard extensively on his records since the '70s. As then, he transplants standards of whatever school into his own cross-genre idiom, squeezing his tone through the syllables and flashing his speed scatting. He produces some lovingly drawn-out reprises of "She's Leaving Home" and "We Got By," a semi-funk "Summertime" with echoes of Gil Evans in the horns, and fits into the rapid-fire "Mas Que Nada" in the Brazilian manner-born. Opera diva Kathleen Battle's breathless coloratura soprano makes for an odd, unsettling contrast with Jarreau's snake-like wanderings in "My Favorite Things" (the only track recorded at a separate session in New York; the others were cut in L.A.); Michael Brecker's tenor sax adds a third alien voice to the mix. Those who were first drawn to Jarreau from his live and recorded performances of the mid-'70s are going to like this CD -- and this time, the new material ("Wait for the Magic," "Dinosaur") is not only interesting and thought-provoking, it makes good use of Jarreau's voice. As with Live In London, a home video of the sessions is available, but contains only ten tracks. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Verve

Although centered around songs from the 1940s, Al Jarreau's Accentuate the Positive is another stellar modern jazz album that continues the winning streak he began with his 2000 comeback, Tomorrow Today. Similar to his previous effort, the R&B-infused All I Got, the album features classy production from Tommy LiPuma and a natty cast of backing musicians, including bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Anthony Wilson, among others. Centered around Jarreau's still limber and evocative vocals, Accentuate moves from uptempo bluesy numbers like Eddie Henderson's "Cold Duck" to lush ballads, including "My Foolish Heart" and reworked standards, most notably "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," turned here into a funky and expansive toe-tapper. This is a solid, poignant, and straight-ahead album that showcases Jarreau's unique gift in the best light possible and should appeal to longtime fans and contemporary jazz listeners alike. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 29, 2008 | Rhino

It's kind of surprising that Al Jarreau's catalog hasn't been treated with greater care. Best of Al Jarreau, released by Warner Bros. back in 1996, remains the best anthology of Jarreau's career, and the various Love Songs series put together by different labels have tended to exist merely as a way to take advantage of the Valentine's Day market (Sony BMG released a Love Songs comp for the Bay City Rollers, of all artists), but this particular Love Songs is more than something to fill the shelves, compiling many of Jarreau's biggest hits released from 1976 through 2006. Since it skips across 30 years, a number of favorites are bound to be missing -- "Your Precious Love," "Since I Fell for You," and "Moonlighting," for instance. Even so, this covers the basics rather well. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 8, 2008 | Rhino

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Jazz - Released June 15, 1980 | Warner Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Concord Records

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Pop - Released June 13, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Records

Five albums by Al Jarreau are bundled together for this U.K.-issued release in the Original Album Series. There's We Got By (1975), Glow (1976), All Fly Home (1978), This Time (1980), and Breakin' Away (1981). Each disc is packaged individually within a thin cardboard pouch that replicates the front and back sleeve design of the original release. Some casual fans might be disappointed that the compact box leaves out the double-live album Look to the Rainbow, but this is a rather affordable way to obtain the singer's first five studio albums for the Warner Bros. label. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 12, 1987 | Warner Records

With a restrained yet potent funk band and a few cameos from luminaries in the jazz world, Al Jarreau gets plenty of opportunities to wrap his rubbery, ever-changing timbre around an agreeable collection of tunes, the majority of which he wrote or co-wrote. Of the cover tunes, Jarreau completely transforms Kenny Loggins' "Wait a Little While," the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home" and Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay" into personal vehicles for vocal acrobatics, and his own "Fly" revives his uncanny ability to skitter and sail along with a Brazilian-based rhythm track. Freddie Hubbard puts in a soulful guest appearance on flugelhorn on Dave Frishberg's "I'm Home" and applies a more outgoing obligato to "Fly"; Lee Ritenour and Paulinho Da Costa also make appearances on the record. While Jarreau could still be technically classified as a jazz singer at this point, he is really inhabiting a zone of his own. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 8, 2008 | Rhino

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Jazz - Released April 8, 2008 | Rhino

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | GRP

Al Jarreau hits you with all he's got on his second release for the GRP/Verve recording label. The 11-song program, appropriately titled All I Got, features Jarreau's imaginative vocal stylings, lots of innovative urban sensibilities, and top-tier performances from a stellar band that includes his longtime musical director, Freddie Ravel, and a duet with guest star Joe Cocker. Urban innovation is more than a buzzword here. The urban sound of producer Paul Brown imparts a soulful message on such songs as "Random Act of Love,""Secrets of Love," the title track, and the very hip a cappella rendition of "Route 66," each of which reflects Jarreau's pioneered use of unfolding a musical story layer by layer. A prime example is his reverse take on street violence called "Random Act of Love," something this world desperately needs. Instead of just another range of excessive scatting and vocal gymnastics, Jarreau presents his listeners with real-world concepts that make a difference in your interpretations of these aural pleasures. He becomes a vehicle of revelation on the gospel-tinged "Feels Like Heaven to Me." On the other side of his musical personality is the lovely fullness of "Until You Love Me" and "Jacaranda Bougainvillea," both of which feature a string orchestra set against an oasis of vocal skills. Overall, All I Got showcases the award-winning Jarreau's unmistakable stylistic diversity in settings that are fluid, soulful, jazzy, and romantic. In some ways, the music even exceeds the versatility heard on the critically acclaimed Tomorrow Today. © Paula Edelstein /TiVo
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R&B - Released September 30, 2008 | Rhino

If ever there was a singer suited for a holiday album it was Al Jarreau, whose friendly, honeyed croon always felt warm and welcoming. Those traits are evident on his 2008 seasonal album Christmas but so are his scatting roots, perhaps a little bit too much so for this to be the kind of soothing soundtrack to a Christmas party that it might initially seem to be, particularly as the first section of the album is loaded with just a little bit too much syncopation and swing. As Christmas rolls on, things settle down into a smooth quiet storm groove, never pushing too hard on either the vocal or arrangement front, which is a bit of a relief after the slightly overcooked first half. This back-end -- containing a silken "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," a light "The Little Christmas Tree" and a mildly funky "Gloria in Excelsis" -- is what Jarreau fans would hope, even expect, from an Al Jarreau Christmas album and it's the reason to give this a seasonal spin. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released March 18, 2016 | earMUSIC Classics