Jack Jones

Jack Jones. Oddly enough, it’s his real name, or pretty close. I haven’t really paid too much attention to his singing until fairly recently; it’s been a delightful discovery. Enjoy.

“Call Me Irresponsible”

A two-time Grammy winner in the early ’60s, Jack Jones has made a fine living since, blending vocal standards from traditional pop with swinging renditions of contemporary pop and rock hits. Born in Los Angeles in 1938, Jones was the son of the romantic lead actor and recording artist Allan Jones (who had a hit with “The Donkey Serenade”) and actress Irene Hervey. He began studying the vocal arts in high school, and after graduation joined his father’s successful act on the nightclub circuit. Jack left less than a year later, determined to make it on his own, and began playing small clubs around the country.


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

(Between 1961 and 1967), Jones recorded almost twenty albums…(snip). Young, handsome, and well-groomed, Jack Jones was an anomaly in the sixties, eschewing rock and roll trends and opting for the big band sound, lush romantic ballads and the Great American Songbook, although sometimes he recorded something more pop, country or bossa nova oriented. One of his biggest hits, for example, was “The Race Is On”, by country music legend George Jones (who is not related to Jack). Besides the good choice of material, Jones worked with top arrangers like Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Marty Paich, Shorty Rogers, Jack Elliott, Ralph Carmichael, Bob Florence, Don Costa and Pete King.


With Judy Garland. They’re doing a medley of every damn song they could think of, followed by the “Donkey Serenade.”

“Gypsies, Jugglers and Clowns,” from 1968.

As is often the case with singers in this genre, he moves back and forth between trite nonsense and genuinely terrific material from the great American songbook.

A review from 2010, by the Wall Street Journal’s Will Friedwald (another example of why the WSJ should stick to cultural reporting and leave the financial sector news to Rolling Stone):

About halfway through his show, while performing David Gates’s “If,”Jack Jones sings: “If a man could be two places at one time, I’d be with you.” And indeed, Mr. Jones is doing two apparently contradictory things at once: He’s got to be the most conversational jazz-pop singer in the pantheon, delivering every word of every line in a direct, one-on-one dialogue with everybody in the Oak Room. At the same time, he’s the most thoroughly musical and constantly creative, having learned the lessons of Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra? that playing with the tune can be a way of personalizing it, making the lyrics resonate all the more meaningfully. Beyond that, Mr. Jones is the most well-endowed vocally and theatrically; nearly every ending is a big one, allowing him to show off his Olympian chops. Somehow, he achieves the near-impossible feat of being breathlessly intimate even while belting at the top of his lungs.
To miss Mr. Jones would be to miss one of the great veteran interpreters of the standard songbook (in a class with Tony Bennett and Freddy Cole). Miraculously, he keeps his balance through the entire show, managing to be up close and personal yet at the same time hitting stratospheric high notes that only dogs can hear and holding them until the cows come home. The dichotomy was represented by his two opening theme songs, the warm, intimate “Isn’t That What Friends Are For?” and the bombastic, anthemic “I Am a Singer.” It’s not like he’s one thing and then the other; he’s constantly both at the same time, particularly on emblematic 1960s hits like “People” and “God Only Knows,” which he brings to life more vividly than anyone I’ve ever heard.


His phrasing draws from Sinatra, but there is nobody in this genre of whom that cannot be said. His technique is extraordinary; while I’m not always sympathetic to his intonation he usually manages to convince me that he’s doing it deliberately.

Stephen Holden, in The New York Times; 2008:

In 1962, when he had his first hit, “Lollipops and Roses,” Mr. Jones was the handsome, fresh-faced new kid on the block in an already established tradition of honey-dripping lounge lizards who swing. Today he is the same animal, but his weathered voice is filled with seams and crevices. It is the voice of a gentleman rancher astride a horse, surveying his property in a television western. It is said that as we age, we become more and more ourselves. And the mature Jack Jones has refined a style that could never be called cookie-cutter. His world-weary cragginess coincides with an impulse to take ballads at extremely slow tempos and to execute them with the hesitations, drawn-out notes and sudden leaps that are a trademark of the jazz singer Mark Murphy. Because the lower end of Mr. Jones’s voice has deepened, his sudden flights into a quasi-falsetto are more dramatic than ever. At times they suggest the spontaneous eruptions of a polished stylist impatiently throwing caution to the wind.


Shadow of Your Smile / What Now, My Love?

Someone To Watch Over Me / Just One Of Those Things
While the MC is annoying, his performances are delightful; great variations on the Cole Porter.

With Aretha Franklin and B.B. King, doing “Sweet Sixteen.” Damn.

This gig recording is very recent. He is using more rasp, and doing so quite creatively. I don’t always agree with his intonation in the first few verses, but by the time he gets going, he’s beautifully focused. And what a lovely lower register.

“Our Love Is Here To Stay.” He is joined onstage at the end by his ex-wife and their daughter.

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