Al Jarreau eats, breathes and sleeps his music — and makes no apologies for it.
“When you’ve done it for a long, long time, you get a sense of who you are as a performer,” he told the Banner. “You begin to have a sense of the musical world, and a sense of who you are inside of that.”
The legendary jazz and RandB singer will showcase that side of himself on Saturday night when he performs at Patriot Place in Foxborough. His concert comes on the heels of a whirlwind European tour that included stops in Germany, France and Istanbul.
The tour could seem exhausting to many, but Jarreau, who turned 68 this year, says traveling abroad enriches him both as a performer and a person.
“On the practical side,” he said, “even being in places where the practices are so different, the cultures are so different, it helps you speak to your mutual needs, with descriptions that are taken from personal experience. It helps your songwriting.”
Jarreau says songwriting and performing have been in his blo od since he sang in the church choir as a child: “It’s part of the dreamscape that began years and years ago for me.”
Raised in Milwaukee, Jarreau attended Ripon College in Wisconsin, majoring in psychology. He continued his studies and attended the University of Iowa, earning his master’s degree in vocal rehabilitation. While music ran through his blood, he originally followed the safe route, refusing to leap head-first into the jazz scene.
Instead, he took a job with the state of California as a rehabilitation counselor. He admits the position didn’t suit him.
“I was not a good administrator,” he said. “Good morning and good night, paperwork and everything in between in triplicate. Those were my downfalls.”
While he worked in San Francisco, he started to explore the music scene and stumbled upon a club where another legendary pianist and singer performed: George Duke. Duke invited him up on stage one night, and his direction shifted.
“I thought, ‘This [is] the time to try something different,’” he recalled.