Wrapping a Weekend, Saying Fond Farewells to Some Greats

Just heard that Al Jarreau has passed. One of my favorites. So smooth, so classy. It’s hard to think of many more-successful jazz singers who’ve crossed-over to pop in the modern era. Jarreau and George Benson come to mind first. Herbie Hancock, Grover Washington, Jr., Chuck Mangione. And Jarreau. Like berries on the vine, he got sweeter all the time.

Al had just announced last week he was retiring from touring. While I love the music he leaves behind, it’s sad to think about what he might have had planned, now that he was getting off the road. He was a big supporter of music education, and his family urges fans to donate to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music.

Speaking of great talent passing away, I made a point to watch the Adele tribute to George Michael on the Grammys.

I wish I hadn’t. George Michael deserved so much better. Couldn’t they have found someone who cared a little more about the late crooner, and could stop being a diva for five minutes? I thought she was an odd choice, and her performance proved she was. And I’m a fan of her, but Lord, that was a cock-up.

We also lost a soft-spoken gentleman and genuine hero this weekend, retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, the battalion commander who wrote “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young” which became the excellent movie directed by and starring Mel Gibson.

All Moore did was graduate West Point in 1942, serve in the Korean War, teach at West Point (Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf was a student) and then get reassigned to the battlefield, leading the legendary 1st Battalion/7th Cav into the hellish Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. Newly-minted air support tactics, unreliable South Vietnamese units and fighting so intense that Moore found the bodies of a dead American and a dead North Vietnamese soldier, their hands still wrapped around each other in mortal combat.

He wrote one of the very best books about war and leadership, which became an excellent movie and led to a lifelong friendship between Moore and Gibson. Gibson said the book haunted him with his first reading of it. I agree.

Al Jarreau was 76. Hal Moore was 94. Two different lives, lived to different God-given purposes, both of which enriched our lives immeasurably. Both in St. Peter’s waiting room.

Thank you and amen.

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