Al Jarreau: ‘Some Lady Gaga might slip into my music’

Al Jarreau
Al Jarreau

Closing out this year’s Jazz Roots at the Adrienne Arsht Center is the duo of jazz musician Al Jarreau and saxophonist David Sanborn. The two know each other well, and Jarreau said he’s looking forward to performing with his old friend Friday night.

“David and I have this kinship from this great love of this great American music form called jazz,” Jarreau said.

The two have collaborated multiple times in the past on such songs as Since I Fell for You, from the Sanborn and Bob James album Double Vision, and share similar influences going back to when Jarreau and Sanborn performed at a club called The Tender Trap in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“A lot of great musicians came through there and felt that influence. We know a lot of great musicians from that town,” Jarreau said.

Jarreau said performing in South Florida is always a treat, especially when he can find time to indulge in black beans, rice and seafood, a diet he said goes back to his childhood in Milwaukee.

The 75-year-old described Miami as one of the “great music audiences in this sector of the universe” and paid respect to the influence of Afro-Cuban music on the local music scene.

“It’s infectious, and the whole community of people in the surrounding area feels that,” he said. “It’s a great audience to come and play for.”

While the influence of the Caribbean has been a part of Miami’s jazz scene for years, Jarreau said the influence of other genres has played an important role in shaping jazz’s future.

“It’s kind of inevitable that people living in current contemporary time will be influenced by what’s around them. Who knows? Some Lady Gaga might slip into my music,” he said.

He allowed that influence to come into his most recent album, My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke, a tribute to the jazz musician and vocalist who died in 2013. The record features Diane Reeves, Dr. John and Lalah Hathaway, among others.

“It was a who’s-who coming together in celebration of the brilliant George Duke, who left a legacy with us that is just amazing,” Jarreau said, adding he hopes to return to South Florida more often and plans to continue listening for new influences.

“Jazz demands that you do that. That’s the first commandment: Be alive and present in the world that you live in.”

The sixth and final show in the 2014-15 Jazz Roots series will take place at 8 p.m. Friday at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Tickets $25-$150; or 305-949-6722.