After leaving Warner Bros. in the mid-'90s, the legendary singer (and only one to win Grammys in pop, R&B, and jazz) kept busy enough with his endless concert globetrotting and occasional symphony gig to wait until the right new situation came along. Signing with GRP meant reuniting with label chairman Tommy LiPuma, who produced his first album in 1975 and has known Jarreau's unique multi-genre vision for over a quarter century. That combination sounds as fresh now as it always has. Working with top soulful smooth-jazz producer Paul Brown (best known for his association with saxman Boney James, who appears here) helps the singer bring out his adult contemporary best. Depending on the track, he modulates his voice from soft and airy -- as on the coolly romantic "Just to Be Loved" and the dreamy "another chance" tune "Let Me Love You" -- to crazily percussive a la Bobby McFerrin on the irrepressible a cappella closer "Puddit (Put It in Your Pocket)," co-written with Joe Sample. The best part of Jarreau is his joyous unpredictability. He draws us into a thick funk jam like "In My Music" (featuring a chunky guitar solo by former Rufus member Tony Maiden), then drenches himself with a spicy Latin horn splashes on the wacky title track. That song, co-written with keyboardist Freddie Ravel, begins with a tongue-in-cheek Jarreau approximating Ricky Ricardo, then switching off between his unique vocal percussion and a softer tone. The tune can be enjoyed as both a danceable Latin jam or as a social statement wondering about "tomorrow's child today." On the more spiritual side, one of the most beautiful tracks is the anthem like "God's Gift to the World," a duet with Vanessa Williams. Whether it's yesterday, today, or tomorrow, Al Jarreau never fails to keep listeners on their toes.
Tomorrow Today Review
by Jonathan Widran