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Q&A: Vocalist Al Jarreau

A no-holds-barred conversation

Flanked by fellow vocal stars Dee Dee Bridgewater (far left), Esperanza Spalding and Kurl Elling, Jarreau sings his verse of John Lennon's "Imagine" to close the International Jazz Day concert at the White House in April in 2016.
Christian McBride, Sadao Watanabe, Al Jarreau and Lee Ritenour (from left) perform in the International Jazz Day Global Concert at the White House; April 29, 2016

When JT publisher Lee Mergner spoke to Al Jarreau in June, what was originally intended to be a conversation about the vocal-jazz hero joining the 2017 Jazz Cruise snowballed into an inspired, freewheeling dialogue. In this interview, edited for space, the 76-year-old discusses his return to the duo format, his upcoming Ellington big-band project, what icons like Ali and Obama mean to the American spirit and why he “ain’t scared of Trump at all.”

Lee Mergner: I wanted to talk about you doing the Jazz Cruise for the first time. One of the unique aspects is the hang with your fellow musicians.

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