Alwin (“Al”) Lopez Jarreau was a monarch to say the least in the world of Jazz. Very few musicians have been able to use their instruments as blissfully and as thoroughly as he. Born on March 12th 1940 in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Jarreau passed away this past weekend at the age of 76 leaving behind a legacy as great as the ones he partook in creating. With seven Grammy Award winnings and countless nominations under his belt; Jarreau not only defined a completely unadulterated sound but exceeded the constraints of ones vocal demeanor. He would go into duration’s of extended ad-libbing that were appropriately colorful and unexpected with cackling, grunting and melodic runs. By reason of this, other vocalists seemed almost insignificant using typical vibratos and phrases like “Oh baby.”
Amidst the authentic male vocalists of Jazz at that time, from Pop Standard and Broadway specialist Tony Bennett to the versatile, late-great Lou Rawls, Jarreau was definitely in a class of his own. While on stage Jarreau completely abandoned the typically designed seriousness that most Jazz musicians have, for a more unrestricted and amusing pattern that sprouted from an ambition to use his voice as an instrument of joyful healing. When interviewed by Midwestern writer Joey Grihalva, Jarreau was asked about his love for Jazz as a listener rather than a vocalist. His response; “…I love it because it was some of the first music that I ever heard and it’s in my heart and soul. But inside of that music I find a music that in itself has a real breadth of feelings that can be expressed.”
Here’s a few live performances that’ll recap on Al Jarreau’s gift to entertain as well as heal.
1. 1978’s “Thinking About it Too” shows off Al’s vocal skills effortlessly
2. Full orchestral arrangement’s of Jerreau classics from Al Jerreau and the Metropole Orkest
3. 1980’s “Alonzo” gives off a practically euphoric sound
4. 1981’s “Roof Garden” was a festive Jazz-Funk track
5. 1994’s “Summertime” with Alita Moses is enough to give one goosebumps
Syd has brought forth a very smooth and unique sound as well as writing style. She’s been the center of alternative R&B and Neo-Soul band the Internet for years. All the while not subjecting herself to just using her voice but her writing, record producing, DJ and audio engineering talents as well. After much work on multiple joint projects, the time has finally come to be able to appreciate her talent with undivided attention as she gives us her debut solo album entitled Fin.
The artist Syd, was born Sydney Barrett April 23rd 1992 in Los Angeles California. As mentioned, Syd has been apart of multiple joint projects therefore she is in a social circle of diverse musicians. She’s among the likes of Frank Ocean or even her own brother Taco; artists who have emerged into the public eye under super group Odd Future, created by Tyler the Creator (much of OF’s early work has being worked on in Syd’s parent’s house). The Internet has released three studio albums to date with 2015’s Ego Death being the project that was needed to solidify the group’s place in people’s conversations of musicians on the come up. The single “Girl” produced by Haitian DJ and record producer Kaytranada, was a certified banger and in turn was nominated for a Grammy.
Fin is, exactly what fans of this smooth and charismatic artist expected it to be. Syd continues to carry on with the confidence that she came into the public eye with. You can tell listening to this project that stepping outside of the Internet, was not stepping out of her comfort zone. When having a conversation with the FADER about the Internet and their careers as a whole, the topic of solo projects was brought up. “This is my decent into the depth I want the band to get to.” She continues; “for me this is like an in-between thing. Maybe get a song on the radio, maybe make some money, have some new shit to perform.” With that being said, Syd definitely used all of her strengths to her advantage on this project, combining Hip-Hop, Neo-Soul and R&B with a combination of very talented producers, like Fontana California born Hit-Boy and New York multimedia artist MeLo-X. Through both lyrics and sound, Syd allows for her personality to flow almost euphoric like through the listeners ears.
The opening track “Shake em Off” is a mid tempo track with a bold feel as you hear her talk about ignoring critics, and being self-assured when it comes to the things you pursue in life. “Young star in the making/Swear they sleeping on me” she sings in a braggadocios manner. Now enters the track “Know”. Over a sputtered beat that anyone could easily hear the late Aaliyah over, Syd speaks of an affair that she wants to keep hidden. This song easily gives the feel of a classic time-sensitive incident that the Internet spoke of on their track “Special Affair” from the classic Ego Death project. “Got her Own” is a track that puts her sexuality at the forefront, with her expressing her love for a woman that is independent and full of ambition. Track eight “Drown in it” is a personal let down for myself as it is too short for how good it is making it an interlude rather than a full song. In this track Syd conveys her nasty intentions in an audacious tone; “Swim in it/Dive in it/Drown in it/Hide in it/Inside of it babe”. Then there’s the following track; “Body”. In a recent interview with New Zealand born DJ and producer Zane Lowe, Syd admitted to wanting this specific song to be the “baby-making anthem of 2017”. Arguably, she’s accomplished that very goal. This album comes to a close in an almost awakening tone. She shows that there is more to just her calm and collected exterior in the track “Insecurities”. There’s a vulnerable person trapped loving someone that cannot offer back what’s being dished out.
This project overall felt very fresh coming from a familiar voice and sound. Syd’s open mindedness and willingness to put her persona into her music is what will keep the listener drawn close as well as with the enchanted production that matches up perfectly in every aspect. It’s a smooth project, but it gets rough in places where it needs to be. The next album should definitely dive even more into Syd’s personal apprehensions and infatuations. With this first solo attempt, I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more solo as well as joint pieces from Syd.