“Well, I was at a party tonight and he was there,” she told me. “How were you at a party with Al Jarreau??? Whose party was it?” “Oh, this guy named Steve was having a birthday party,” she said. “I know his wife.”
You know what the next question had to be and you can bet I asked it. “What is Steve’s last name?” Her answer was as bad as I expected. “Gadd. Steve Gadd.” How did she do it? How did she get into all these places and meet all these people? A word about her. She is the most sincere, honest, and absolutely charming person you could ever hope to meet. She is innocent and she is delightful. “Anyway,” she continued (Sure, “anyway.” Setting me up that the guest list is only the preamble to the story), “I was in the middle of these people and they were talking about music. They mentioned jazz music. ‘Ewww,’ I said, ‘I don’t like jazz.’”
Oh, my God. She was in a party at Steve Gadd’s house, with Al Jarreau in attendance (and Lord knows who else!) and she says that she doesn’t like jazz. Great. I wasn’t even there and I’m embarrassed. But she kept up the pain injections by going on with her story.
So, “this nice looking man” asked her if she liked the album that was playing at the moment. She said that she did. He smiled and nodded and said, “This is jazz.” Later, another album was on by “some band called spiral something.” I asked if she meant The Spiral Staircase and she said that it wasn’t them “it was…Oh! Spiral Gyro!” I groaned, “That would be Spyro Gyra.” “Yeah, that’s them,” she went on, “so this nice man asked me if I liked that album and I said I did and he smiled and nodded and said ‘jazz.’”
She said this went on all night. Finally she asked his name and he said “Al Jarreau.” “What do you do?” she asked him. He smiled and nodded and said “jazz.”
The concert was great which, of course, need not even be said. I sat in the audience and saw two of my favorite musicians take the stage; Abraham Laboriel (bass) and Alex Acuna (drums). It was a great band and, as I said, a great show.
After the concert, I waited around back where the musicians exit after whatever-they-do-after-a-concert. At that same backstage door I had met Jon Anderson (then of YES), Clem Clempson (Humble Pie, Bakerloo, etc.), David Sancious (E Street Band and Tone) and some others. After everyone else had left, fans and stagehands and performers alike, I decided to drive around to the front where, sure enough, he had just gotten into a car with his wife, who would be driving. We politely asked to say hello for a moment and he was as completely gracious as one could hope.
His wife was having trouble with the headlamp switch and my sister helped her with it. During that time, I got to speak with Al Jarreau. I told him that I once heard Chick Corea refer to him as “The Voice.” He laughed his quiet, sweet laugh and said “Chick is the best. I love that man. I would work with Chick any chance I could ever get.” I asked him what he liked about working with Chick Corea and he smiled at me and said, “You get to have fun with Chick. In fact, he requires it.”
I told him, “I can never tell you what your music has meant to me.” He stood up out of the car and hugged me. “And I can never tell you what that means to me,” he said.
My sister came around the car and asked him for a kiss, which he allowed. Then he smiled and looked me in the eye and said, “None for you.”
© copyright 2011. All rights reserved.