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Al Jarreau Interview Page 4

al jerreau and george bensonAJ:  And you know that electric sparks happen. It was new art. Hey, that happened in an afternoon. Writing the arrangement as we went.

Smitty:  Now, Al, you’ve been close to this from day one.

AJ:  Mm-hmm.

Smitty:  From the time you were in John Burk’s office with George.

AJ:  Yeah.

Smitty:  And you’ve seen all of these beautiful things happen.

AJ:  Yes.

Smitty:  And now we’re 11 days from the release. The album release October 24th.

AJ:  Yeah.

Smitty:  How do you contain yourself?

AJ:  (Sighs and laughs.)  Smitty, that’s a very…no one’s asked that question, but it’s a description of what’s going on inside of me. There’s an excitement and anticipation here.  George and I went out and did our first tour with this record under our arms in August. We did 12 cities. In the month of August, George and I on stage doing music from this record. Yeah, there’s a real kind of excitement that is hard to describe.

Smitty: Yeah, because, you know, this kind of excitement doesn’t go away in a month.

AJ:  No. You’re right.

Smitty: I mean, this is part of your life that you have lived with this great music. This kind of excitement will exist for some time.

AJ:  Yeah, it’s a kind of culmination, isn’t it? A kind of culmination, at least for this moment in two careers. We’ve brought all that we’ve done, you know, everything from my “Breaking Away.”

Smitty:  Yeah, baby.

AJ:  All of that stuff that’s happened in my life to this moment and made this statement.  George has brought everything from his “Breezin’” and “Masquerade” life and existence as a musician to the project and to this moment, and it does represent a kind of culmination of our histories in this moment with Givin’ It Up. So, yeah, a culmination for both of us, and there is a kind of excitement which is an unusual kind of excitement that comes from the culmination of two careers to make a statement right now and, yeah, it’s hard to contain ourselves.

Smitty: I ask that question because I had nothing to do with making this record and I’m totally excited about it. So I can just imagine you cats with this record, you know?

AJ:  Yeah, well, you know, there’s a thing that we are kind of hoping for that maybe it’s too much wishful thinking or too great a hope. There is a kind of way that we listened to music that doesn’t exist very much anymore.  When people got together and, yeah, you know, the new Sly Stone, the new Janis Joplin. And the list goes on….The new Elton John.  And you got together with some friends, a glass of wine, and laid on the floor in front of the speakers of the system and then put your head on a pillow and you just listened for a whole record over and over again, maybe listened for an hour, maybe listened for three or four hours….

Smitty:  I remember that.

AJ: .…and put something else on and listened.  People used to do that. I don’t think people feel music that way these days anymore.  I don’t think that happens.  Now, no, not young people.  There are so many other attractions.  People watch a movie.  Movies are huge.

Smitty:  Yes.

AJ:  Bigger bang for the buck, explosions, you know, blood, gore, sex.  It’s a different time. Music doesn’t mean what it meant a few years ago when life was a little different, a little simpler. And at the risk of sounding like a geezer or an old timer, that doesn’t exist anymore.

Smitty:  And you’re absolutely right. You’re exactly right.

AJ:  So we have to hope that with a project like this we’ll perhaps bring some audience to that listening experience, new Surround Sound, the way to listen to this record.

Smitty:  Yeah, man.

AJ:  Maybe this project and things inside of it that are kind of special moments, will give people a chance to get back to some of that.…some people who’ve been there in their past and in their history and in recent times haven’t done that will go there with this record.

Smitty:  Absolutely because it sure took me there and that’s one of the main reasons why I love this record because it does take you back. You know, we were talking about “Long Come Tutu,” track three.

AJ:  Yes.

Smitty:  That whole feel of the song takes me back. “Mornin” and  “Breezin’” takes me back, because they have that strong, raw feel that I love, yeah.

AJ:  Right, fresh.

Smitty:  Yes, fresh feel to it.

AJ:  Yeah, George played some stuff on there that knocked Herbie Hancock’s socks off.  (Both laughing.)

Smitty:  And that’s knockin’ some socks off.

AJ:  I could hear him now.  “God, I haven’t heard him play like that before.  Haven’t heard you play like that, George.”  And Herbie just sparkles on “Tutu.”  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  Yes indeed. Yeah, I think they both brought out the best in each other on that, you know?

AJ:  Yes. Go for it.

Smitty: How sweet. Well, Al, I can’t say enough about this record.  You and I could talk for another four hours about this, you know that. It’s that good.

AJ:  Yes, you’re right, we could go on talking some more.

Smitty: As always, it’s always a sheer pleasure to talk with you, my friend.

AJ:  Thank you, Smitty.  I enjoyed chatting with you too and I’m really flattered to hear you say that you like talking to me.

Smitty:  Oh, yeah, man.

AJ:  You talk to a lotta people, man.

Smitty:  Yeah, but you are tops, and you’re not just tops with me because when your name comes up in any circle, it’s always “Oh, we love Al.” Yeah, man, so you are the boy, that’s for sure.

AJ:  (Laughs.) Every day is Thanksgiving.

Smitty:  Absolutely, my friend, and keep making great music and keep doing what you do, my friend. We’ve been talking with the incredible Al Jarreau. He has joined George Benson on a magnificent collaborative project called Givin’ It Up and you must add this one to your CD collection. I highly recommend this project for anyone that love great music! Al, congratulations on this new record and all the very best with it and your upcoming tour.

AJ:  All right, Smitty, thank you very much for your time, interest, for listening, and for all that you do.



Baldwin “Smitty” Smith