Back in the late 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, there was a form of radio music format called Middle of the Road. The format featured some of the best music that was aimed at an adult audience. The format featured not only performers like Frank Sinatra, but also the Beatles, Peter and Gordon, and Simon and Garfunkel. Jarreau remembers the two stations in Milwaukee, his hometown that featured that format, WTMJ and WEMP. He says, "The beauty of that format was that the music was diverse enough to incorporate many musical styles, including pop, jazz, rock, and other styles that are hard to find on over-the-air radio stations today."
Jarreau is reunited on Accentuate the Positive by producer Tommy LiPuma, who produced Glow in 1976 and Look to the Rainbow in 1977. Jarreau says that unlike his previous two efforts that he did with LiPuma, this release is not has highly produced. He says, "Tommy’s ability to create space in which I’m both comfortable and challenged is a great blessing. When we went to select songs for the album, we wanted to bring not only songs that were jazz standards, such as I’m Beginning to See the Light and going back to the Great American Songbook with The Nearness of You, Tommy wanted to show my vocal creativity as well."
Many people don’t realize that Al Jarreau is not only a great vocalist, he is also a good songwriter. Jarreau co-wrote five of the songs on Accentuate the Positive, but he says, "I had great help with writing the songs. I salute Eddie Harris with Cold Duck and Dizzy Gillespie with Groovin’ High. But I also got help with some great people. Pianist Russell Ferrante helped write Scootcha-Booty and Freddie Ravel helped with Betty."
To support Accentuate the Positive, Jarreau is first going to perform a concert tour of Europe. It will be followed by a tour of the United States in late summer and early fall. Then Jarreau will go on a tour of Asia and the Pacific Rim. He says it is always important to let people know what you’re doing. "It is how fans know what I’m doing and show my versatility in the kinds of music I do, and to put my own stamp on it," he says.
Al Jarreau is an American treasure. From his humble roots in Milwaukee to his world- renowned superstar status, Jarreau always wants to bring out the best, and at the same time, challenge himself. Accentuate the Positive provides both. If you’re not an Al Jarreau fan now, listen to the new CD. You will become one.