Al Jarreau, a seven-time Grammy-winning jazz singer dubbed “the Acrobat of Scat” whose work spanned five decades, died Sunday. He was 76.
Jarreau’s site confirmed the singer’s death but did not reveal the cause. Earlier in the week, Jarreau’s Facebook alerted fans that the singer was hospitalized in Los Angeles due to exhaustion and that all future tour dates were canceled.
“It is with complete sorrow, Al is retiring from touring,” the note continued. A day later, fans were informed that Jarreau “is recovering slowly and steadily. His son reports that he caught his dad singing ‘Moonlighting’ to one of the nurses.” However, three days later, Jarreau died.
In a note on Jarreau’s website announcing his death, someone associated with the singer wrote, “A few days ago, I was asked to describe Al to someone who knew of his success, but did not know him as a person. I responded with this: His 2nd priority in life was music. There was no 3rd. His 1st priority, far ahead of the other, was healing or comforting anyone in need. Whether it was emotional pain, or physical discomfort, or any other cause of suffering, he needed to put our minds at ease and our hearts at rest. He needed to see a warm, affirming smile where there had not been one before. Song was just his tool for making that happen.”
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Over the course of a career that spanned more than 40 years, Jarreau collaborated with artists like Miles Davis (the jazz legend also performed a song named after the singer), George Benson, Jill Scott, David Foster, David Sanborn, Chick Corea and many more jazz giants.
In addition to winning seven Grammys, mostly in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance category, the singer was nominated an additional 18 times, including a 1982 Album of the Year nomination for his platinum-selling 1981 LP Breakin’ Away. His most recent Grammy nominations arrived in 2013 with three nods: Best Jazz Vocal Album (Live), Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist [“Spain (I Can Recall)”] and Best Children’s Album (JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale).