Does having commercial leanings make you a traitor to the purity of your art? Can you make money in music and still have integrity? These eternal questions came to mind upon the death of singer Al Jarreau. Often savaged by critics and fans for his success, Jarreau cut his own path and by the time he died, at the age of 76, of respiratory failure on Sunday, February 12, he'd had more than a few last laughs on his detractors.
Earlier this week I was invited to Per Se, a sleek restaurant in the Time Warner Center here in NYC for a lavish lunch sponsored by Concord Records. Co-owner Norman Lear was there. So was former SNL and now Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer who served as MC. The occasion was the release of another Ray Charles project which I will be writing about in more detail in an upcoming issue of the magazine. Titled Ray Swings—Basie Swings, it's an elaborate studio creation. Again though, Look for more in December's Stereophile.
Call me an elitist but I fail to see the attractionfor viewersin the whole American Idol phenomena. Of course, television has made millions from televising talent shows over the years so I guess it's just me that's out of step.
In the world of dino rock, several really interesting tidbits today. For some unknown reason (I'm betting the right blend of meds), Brian Wilson did not push Mike Love off the roof of the Capitol Tower in L.A. when the three surviving Beach Boys met up there on Monday to get a framed metal-coated record signifying that their latest greatest hits compilation had turned the sales odometer over to 2x platinum.