I saw Al Jarreau live about two years ago at an outdoor festival, and if Mother Nature would have kept away the small scale typhoon that hit Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that evening, I would have stayed for the whole show. As it was, the show was filled with good music, great scatting, and some amusing little bits of stage humor, such as Al threatening his bass player after said bassist scatted some lines to end one tune. Al said, “You didn’t tell me you were going to do that. I’ll see you in payroll on Monday.” This album keeps up with the standard of entertainment set by Jarreau and his band on that damp evening, and for that reason, I have nothing but praise for it.
Tomorrow Today is full of great tracks that mesh together brilliantly to form a very hip hour of music. It begins with a mid-tempo groove, “Just to Be Loved,” featuring some smooth Stevie Wonder-esque harmonica work. The funky “In My Music” offers up a treasure trove of wickedly good wah-guitar and slap-bass parts, while the vocals and lyrics on “Tomorrow Today” are both wonderfully intense.
Vanessa Williams makes a guest appearance on “God’s Gift to the World,” and her voice melts into Jarreau’s beautifully. I would not have expected as much from a solo artist with a perceived need to dominate a track. Williams shines at her points, but never overshadows Jarreau. It makes for a classy sounding tune, and slightly elevates my opinion of Williams.
The vocal and handclap only tune “Puddit (Put It Where You Want It)” is a great album closer. Al goes through two and a half minutes without mentioning what the “it” in the title is, only to let us know at the very end that “it” is the groove. If Al’s intent was to put “it” all over this album, he’s definitely succeeded.
The majority of the music is somewhat slow, very soulful and extremely smooth, with only a few up-tempo numbers to keep Tomorrow Today from becoming monotonous. Jarreau’s vocals are consistently superb, and the arrangements are just as consistently tasteful and complimentary of Al’s style. Really there’s nothing bad to say about the entire album. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
// Notes from the Road
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