His voice may not be what it once was, but Al Jarreau is still a consummate entertainer. In last night’s appearance with the Cleveland Orchestra, he served up fresh arrangements of his big hits, kept up a nonstop scat and patter between songs, and teased and flirted with the adoring audience that packed Severance Hall.
No one has an outstanding voice at the age of 72, but Jarreau comes close. No longer smooth and supple like honey, his singing has the tone and flavor of mature wine, rich and mellowed by aging. Much of it is done in a low voice that approaches a whisper at times, or gets lost in the big orchestra sound. But he can still crank up clear, strong solos, and occasionally reach deep for sharp highs and resonant lows.