Look to the Rainbow: Live in Europe – Al Jarreau (Warner Bros. – 1977)
by A. Scott Galloway
The first time most folks heard Al Jarreau, they had no idea who – let alone what – he was. The occasion: the last song on Side 2 of Quincy Jones’ Body Heat (A&M – 1974), the now-classic Quiet Storm nugget “If I Ever Lose This Heaven” which was a duet between songwriter Leon Ware and Minnie Riperton. Backstroking in a simmering stew of aquatic bass, African hand drums, enigmatic Fender Rhodes and Wah guitar, Al introduced himself as a human cabasa…the fox in the brush…the medium of the séance…the hippest of hosts announcing the arrival of Hubert Laws’ flute followed by the sensual sweet nothings of Ware (co-writer with Pam Sawyer) and Riperton, ever-ready to lobby ‘the sexy’ backatcha in triplicate. However, it was Jarreau’s disembodied wordless vocalese that set the scene of the otherworldly paradise. Who was this secret sauce of L’Q’s Soul-Jazz soufflé’?