“The Acrobat of Scat:” Childhood friend reflects on life of Milwaukee’s own, Al Jarreau

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MILWAUKEE — Nicknamed “The Acrobat of Scat,” Al Jarreau was a musician, a seven-time GRAMMY winner and to many in Milwaukee, he was a friend. Jarreau passed away on Sunday, February 12th in Los Angeles — but he grew up on W. Reservoir Avenue in Milwaukee.

Friends in Milwaukee said they kept in touch with Jarreau. He played at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino two years ago, and he would call from time to time. His passing was a surprise to those friends, and an opportunity to reflect on his life.

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau was a seven-time GRAMMY winner and a musical innovator, but those who grew up with him said he was special from the start.

“I feel beautiful because I had the pleasure of growing up with him,” John Taylor said.

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau

Taylor was Jarreau’s childhood friend. They grew up just around the corner from one another.

John Taylor

John Taylor

“At that time we had the greatest choir, high school choir in the state of Wisconsin,” Taylor said.

Taylor, a musician in his own right, last saw Jarreau two years ago at Potawatomi.

“We all went down to see him and we took pictures with him. I took pictures with him,” Taylor said.

Those memories are now even more meaningful to the former Ink Spot lead vocalist.

John Taylor and Al Jarreau

John Taylor and Al Jarreau

“Oh I was heartbroken — not only because we grew up together, but the world has lost a great, great artist. I have no doubt about that,” Taylor said.

Dubbed The Acrobat of Scat, Jarreau was known for his versatility — a trait recognized from an early age.

“If you were to be with him and I`d be singing, ‘in a quaint caravan there`s a lady they call a gypsy’ and he would take that Ink Spot song and do something else with it,” Taylor said.

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau

Jarreau passed away at the age of 76. The cause of death was not immediately known, but he was recently hospitalized for exhaustion.

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau