Saturday, September 25, 1999

Exuberant Al Jarreau
a music marvel at
Pops concert


See also: Jarreau forges empathy

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


MULTI-Grammy winner Al Jarreau gave a mind-expanding demonstration of the creative possibilities in modern music last night as he opened a two-night Pops engagement with the Honolulu Symphony.

Jarreau's deconstruction and reassembly of familiar songs from "West Side Story" was in itself worth the price of admission, but only one of the musical marvels last night. "Take Five" and "My Favorite Things" were likewise almost unrecognizable and every bit as impressive.

Jarreau scatted every which way but flat, became a human beat-box and illuminated the hall with his sheer presence.

It might seem odd to describe a jazz vocalist of Jarreau's caliber as "zany," but his exuberance was as engaging as his total command of the material in his 70-minute set.

He didn't emphasize his pop chart hits, but it was one of these rare shows in which the performance was more important than the selections.

It was also one of the best Honolulu Pops concerts in recent years.

Pops conductor Matt Catingub and the symphony fused smoothly with Jarreau and his quartet throughout. Jarreau even did scat riffs to concertmaster "Iggy" Jang's work on violin.

Saxophonist Michael Paulo made a triumphant return home as opening act.

Paulo welcomed his father, Juilliard-trained pianist Rene Paulo Sr., as his special guest, closed with "Millennium Swing" off his current album, then returned as Jarreau's guest to share the spotlight in a landmark Gershwin medley.

It was the first time in memory that a local opening act played with the headliner at a Pops concert -- and the first time that Jarreau and Paulo worked together since 1992.

It was the "Pops" concept at its best.

Jarreau and Paulo do it again tonight.

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