Thursday, December 5, 2013

Concert Review: Jack Jones at the Dakota Jazz Club

Some of my 1960's Jack Jones albums. (Photo by Mark Taylor.)

Jack Jones at the Dakota, October 23, 2013. (Photo by Mark Taylor.)
Me and Jack Jones, October 23, 2013. (Photo by Pondie Taylor.)
In October, one of my favorite singers of all time, Jack Jones, came to the Dakota Jazz Club. I’ve been a fan of Jack Jones’s singing since I was in high school in the mid 1990’s and I was discovering great singers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bobby Darin. My Dad was a big Jack Jones fan during Jones’s heyday in the 1960’s, and he had a lot of Jones’s albums. I started playing them and was immediately struck by what a beautiful voice Jack Jones has. Jones was in his 20’s when he made his classic albums for Kapp Records, and his voice had a wonderfully pure tone. Jones’s voice most reminds me of Vic Damone’s. During the 1960’s Jones scored a number of Top 40 singles with songs like “Wives and Lovers,” “The Race Is On,” and “The Impossible Dream.” His most successful album was “The Impossible Dream,” which made the Top Ten in 1966. But few of Jones’s albums from the 1960’s have been re-issued on CD, and I think he’s very underrated among the great male vocalists. 

I’ve wanted to see Jack Jones in concert for a long, long time, but he’s never come to the Twin Cities. To see him in a small room like the Dakota was a real treat. The concert was a family affair, as I went with both my parents and my wife. It was a wonderful show, as Jack Jones showed that he still has a wonderful voice and a charming stage presence at the age of 75. Jones still looks super handsome, with his full head of grey hair. Jones opened with jazzy versions of “A Song For You,” and “Gypsies, Jugglers, and Clowns.” Jones showed that he has a good sense of humor about himself, as he said with a laugh “I’m one of two people to ever sing ‘Gypsies, Jugglers, and Clowns.’” It’s obvious that Jones has superb control over his voice, you can tell from watching him sing that he knows exactly where to hold the microphone, and how to sing every phrase to get the effect he wants from it. Jones sang lovely versions of “Without A Song,” and the Cole Porter tune most closely associated with Frank Sinatra, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Jones was only accompanied by a bass player and a piano player, which gave the evening a very intimate and jazzy feel. I love hearing great singers with small groups, so it was wonderful to hear Jack Jones this way. Jones sang a beautiful version of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” that took my breath away. One of the highlights of the evening was Jones’s lovely version of his hit “Lollipops and Roses.” Jones brought so much emotion to the lyrics, it was a different reading from the hit he recorded as a young man, but still wonderful. Jones also sang his biggest hit, the hopelessly sexist “Wives and Lovers.” Jones humorously introduced the song, saying that the lyrics were dated, but that “It’s my hit, so I can sing it.” The lyrics of “Wives and Lovers” begin: “Hey, little girl/comb your hair, fix your makeup/soon he will open the door/don’t think because/there’s a ring on your finger/you needn’t try anymore.” Jones joked, “Can you imagine me singing that to Gloria Steinem?”(Jones later wrote new lyrics for a feminist version of the song that starts “Hey, little boy/cap your teeth, get a hairpiece.”) Jones also sang one of his most well-known songs, the theme from “The Love Boat,” which was heard by many millions of TV viewers in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Jones sent himself up by impersonating a fog horn during the song. Jones sang Michel Legrand’s wonderful song “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” One of Jones’s favorites among his own albums is his 1971 album “Jack Jones Sings Michel Legrand.” 

One of the highlights of the concert was Jones performing several songs from the musical “Man of La Mancha.” I know that Jones has acted the lead role in “Man of La Mancha,” and it would be a treat to see him in it after hearing just a few songs during the concert. Jones did an amazing job with “The Impossible Dream,” the signature song from “Man of La Mancha.” I love the way Jack Jones sang “The Impossible Dream” in 1966, and I love the way he sings it now. Jones closed the concert with a medley of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “From a Distance.” Although that may sound cheesy, it worked very well and was quite emotional. 

After the show, Jones signed autographs for fans. He’s a very nice guy who really likes talking to his fans. My Dad was able to get “Where Love Has Gone,” his favorite Jack Jones LP’s from the 60’s signed by Jack, so that was pretty cool. If you’re a fan of great male vocalists, do yourself a favor and check out Jack Jones, because he’s still one of the best.

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