Tuesday, October 02, 2012

 Sold out crowd well entertained by Al Jarreau and The Cleveland Orchestra

Known as “the voice of versatility,” seven time Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau joined The Cleveland Orchestra, under the baton of Larry Baird, to energize and please a Severance Hall audience on Sunday evening.

The 72-year old Jarreau, who has been heralded as “one of the world’s greatest natural resources,” and “the greatest jazz singer alive,” scatted, crooned, used his voice as a musical instrument, held conversations with the orchestra, shuffled around the stage, involved the audience in sing-alongs, and generally had a great time as he let forth with many of his best selling songs and some Broadway tunes.

Though sometimes hard to hear due to some mic problems in the first act, and his tendency to speak quietly, it mattered not to his avid fans. 

Smiling, with a perky beret perched on his head, he sang stylized versions of Bess and Summertime from PORGY AND BESS.  He did his own take on a medley of songs from WEST SIDE STORY, including Something’s Coming, Tonight, Maria, I Feel Pretty and America.  He added his salute to Broadway by adding songs from THE SOUND OF MUSIC. 

Other selections included Everything in Time and God Bless America.

Baird, with flowing blond hair, and a suede cowboy style jacked, looked more the leader of a band, rather than a world famous orchestra.  His informal style well fit the Jarreau style.

The orchestra members, who seemed totally delighted with Jarreau’s presentation, a departure from their usual repertoire, played with their expected proficiency, often playing back up to the band, consisting of the talented Larry Williams (piano), Mark Simmons (drums), and Chris Walker (bass).

Jarreau even added his political views by commenting that he needed to talk to “Barack” to make sure that we keep music in the schools.

Capsule judgement: All-in-all,  the evening was a love-n between Jarreau, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the sold out audience.