Al Jarreau, Versatile Vocalist Who 'Played His Voice,' Dies At 76

Versatile jazz artist Al Jarreau has died at 76.

Al Jarreau, a versatile vocalist who defied categorization for decades, died Sunday at the age of 76. Earlier this week, Jarreau had been hospitalized in Los Angeles "due to exhaustion," according to his official Facebook page.

In a statement posted on Jarreau's website, the musician was lauded for his compassion and caring for those around him.

"His 2nd priority in life was music. There was no 3rd. His 1st priority, far ahead of the other, was healing or comforting anyone in need. Whether it was emotional pain, or physical discomfort, or any other cause of suffering, he needed to put our minds at ease and our hearts at rest."

As an artist, Jarreau was impossible to define and had a voice impossible to mistake. Since he recorded his first album in the 1960s, Jarreau demonstrated a vocal dynamism and flexibility that outpaced many of his peers — as can be seen clearly in his record at the Grammys. Jarreau won seven of them over the course of his career, earning plaudits in the jazz, pop and R&B categories.

As NPR's Rose Friedman notes, "He was famous for his scat singing, using his voice like a musical instrument."

People magazine put it simply: "He doesn't so much sing as play his voice."

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