Over the last 40 years, Al Jarreau has earned a devoted following among jazz fans in the U.S. and across the globe for his scat-inspired delivery, but even after all of those years, the 72-year-old musician's enthusiasm hasn't diminished a bit. In fact, Jarreau's voracious appetite for good music, regardless of genre, has been with him since childhood.
"I was inundated by great stuff from an early age, all the way to the top of my heart and soul," Jarreau says. "As a kid, I listened to Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, and Sarah Vaughan and all of that. I fell in love with that music, but I also became a big fan of R&B and rock 'n' roll. And then along came a vocal group from Paris called Les Double Six, and they stole my heart some more. Then music from Brazil, which just rolled me over backwards."
Best know for his smooth-groovin' hit "We're in This Love Together" and the theme to old Moonlighting television show, Jarreau's latest effort is Al Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest: Live. Jarreau partnered with acclaimed conductor and arranger Vince Mendoza and Holland's Metropol Orkest, a 53-piece orchestra, for a two-night engagement at the Theater aan de Parade in Den Bosch, Netherlands. While the Metropole Orkest normally performs classical works, this collaboration leaned more toward the swing that Jarreau loved as a youngster. The album features renditions of such standards as "Spain (I Can Recall)" and "Cold Duck" as well as a sophisticated reworking of "We're in This Love Together."
While the album features elaborate orchestral arrangements, Jarreau and his regular quintet keep the material tight and jazzy on stage. As part of the three-day Lowcountry Jazz Fest at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center this week, Jarreau will have musical director Joe Turano on keyboards and sax alongside guitarist John Calderon, drummer Mark Simmons, bassist Chris Walker, and pianist/flautist Larry Williams.
"My band and I have a great chemistry," he adds. "It's a great family to be a part of."
The Lowcountry Jazz Fest features a variety of modern jazz talent. Veteran alto sax player David Sanborn and multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson bring their collaborative, smooth-jazz "Dream Tour" to the PAC stage on Fri. Aug. 31 with an opening set from guitarist Matt Marshak. Guitarist Norman Brown, keyboardist Alex Bugnon, and sax players Gerald Albright and Ronnie Laws headline the fest on Sat. Sept. 1. Saxophonist Jessy J will perform a Sunday morning jazz brunch at the nearby Montague Terrace (adjacent to the Coliseum) at 11 a.m. on Sun. Sept. 2. Jarreau and his band headline the final event on Sunday evening.
"I fell in love with the improvisational attitude early on because that's the way you express what you're feeling right at that moment," Jarreau says. "I try to bring that to the table, no matter the event."
Flip-flop Rock | Donavon Frankenreiter
w/ Luke Cunningham.
Tues. Aug. 21.
Isle of Palms
Like Jack Johnson, Donavon Frankenreiter has followed a similar path from the surfing world to the land of beachy, feel-good flip-flop rock. And rightfully so. It was Johnson who produced Frankenreiter's first album, invited him along on tour, and convinced him it was possible to make a living in music. "That was the moment when I thought maybe this is something I could actually do," says Frankenreiter. "I learned a lot touring with Jack about being yourself and singing like you want to sing and not trying to be someone you're not." Frankenreiter was able to take advantage of his 20-year surfing career, using those beach-town crowds as a springboard. He's currently touring in support of his fifth studio album, Start Livin', a loose, live album that was recorded in seven days with Matt Grundy, who co-produced and played all the instruments. "[My last album] Glow was the most poppy record I ever made. This one's the most organic record," the former surfer says. Months short of his 40th birthday, Frankenreiter feels confident in himself and his sound. "My songs are pretty simple," he says. "Maybe people who come to my concert can escape for an hour and a half and hear what it is to enjoy the moment with the friends you're with right then and there." For more, visit the-windjammer.com. —Chris Parker
Country | Early Ray
w/ Hootie and the Blowfish, The Blue Dogs, Collective Soul, and Southwood
Fri. Aug. 17-Sat. Aug. 18
Family Circle Cup Stadium
Early Ray's Rayen Belcher is a musician with a heart for the guitar and a long-term relationship with country music, except this relationship isn't a smooth and easy one. Early Ray has been roughing and tumbling with the genre as they create the bastard love child of Kiss, Hank Williams Jr., and Johnny Cash. This weekend, the South Carolina native Belcher, along with band members Joanna Perry, Kerry Brooks, and Gary Greene, will take the stage at Hootie and Blowfish's annual Homegrown Concert. Last year, Hootie guitarist and songwriter Mark Bryan produced a song for Early Ray. At the time, Early Ray was looking for a drummer, and Bryan pointed the band to Greene. "It all started with Mark and the relationship grew from there," says Troy Perry, the band's manager. Later, Early Ray was asked to play at the Homegrown show. Not surprisingly, they accepted. And that's not all that's on the band's plate. The band is also working on the video for their new single "Where the Wild Things Are." For more information, visit earlyray.com. —DeAnna Kerley
Indie Rock Showcase | Stereofly Southeast Showcase
w/ Company, the Local Honeys, Mountains of Earth, Bully Pulpit, and more
Sun. Aug. 19
If Greg Slattery had his druthers, he'd prefer to listen to local music and nothing more. Which is a good thing since he's the man behind the Stereofly Collective, a group aiming to promote music and art throughout the Southeast. "I want bands and the public to think more locally," Slattery says, noting that the buy-local movement talks a good game when it comes to produce and the like, but they don't do jack for local music. "I think music and art gets neglected in that." This week Slattery and the crew are hosting a Stereofly Southeast Showcase in Charleston, one of a handful of mini-fests the collective is sponsoring in the, um, Southeast, featuring bands from the Southeast, duh. For Stereofly's Holy City stop, Charleston's Company will be on the bill, along with Manray (Athens), Shallow Palace (Columbia), Baby Baby (Atlanta), and handful of other bands. Slattery is particularly jazzed about catching Charleston's Bully Pulpit. "I actually haven't seen them," he says. For more information, visit stereoflycollective.com. —Chris Haire
Americana | The Bad Popes
Fri. Aug. 17
Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ
Sat. Aug. 18
The music of the Bad Popes wanders the entire Americana landscape and beyond. From haunting pedal steel-driven spaghetti-western swing to spy-movie surf rock to a little classic Buck Owens, the Popes are all over the Americana map. This Upstate act — featuring Greenville vets singer-guitarist Jef Chandler, singer-guitarist-mandolin player Charles Hedgepath, pedal steel-dobro player Mike Bagwell, and bassist Chris Garrett — is currently touring behind their sophomore disc, Town and Country, an album anchored by two standout tracks, "People With Money" and "Lord Will Giveth." The former is a soulful rootsy rocker that recalls the Band's "The Weight," while "Lord Will Giveth" moves in a slinky '40s pop gait, driven by its jazzy bassline. "It's basically a minor blues tune and a very standard progression that's probably a throwback, but I like things from that time period," Hedgepath says about the dark tune. "The idea is that no matter what you do or what you say, you're going to have good things happen to you and bad things happen — whether you're a good person or a bad person." The ability to play such a wide range of styles is one of the perks of getting older, if you ask Hedgepath."I'm 35 now. I just want to please myself and the people I play with," he says. "That's what's great with this group — we just laugh and have a good time. There's no drama." For more, visit badpopes.com. —Chris Parker
Bird has been touring the country this summer in support of his 12th studio album, Break it Yourself. He recorded the collection himself at his barn in western Illinois near the banks of the Mississippi River. A newly released documentary titled Here’s What Happened shows the making of the record.
The North Charleston Performing Arts Center announced today that pop songwriter and pianist Ben Folds has reassembled his band the Ben Folds Five and scheduled a string of fall concerts. Folds, drummer Darren Jessee, and bassist/guitarist Robert Sledge are solid for a show at the PAC on Wed. Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. with support from Australian singer/songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke.
The Ben Folds Five formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, N.C., and they quickly rose to prominence in the mid-’90s for their jazz-accented power-pop styles. The song ”Underground,” from their self-titled debut on the Caroline label, made a splash in 1995. In 1997, the band’s single “Brick,” from their album Whatever and Ever Amen, earned massive mainstream radio play. In 2000, Folds stepped away from the band to pursue solo efforts. The year’s tour marks the first time the three bandmates have hit the road in 12 years. A new Ben Folds Five studio album is due for release later this year.
Tickets for reserved seats go on sale for $45 and $63.50 on Fri. July 13 at 10 a.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum’s Advance Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster outlets (including select Publix stores), by phone at (800) 745-3000, and online at ticketmaster.com.