When given the opportunity to review this album by Jack Jones, I was very intrigued. Despite being a multiple Grammy winner, my only familiarity with Jones was that he was the voice behind one of the most iconic TV theme songs in history, “The Love Boat.” After listening to this stellar big band tribute, I will definitely take a deeper look into his catalog.
This thirteen track offering serves as a both a birthday celebration and tribute to Jones’ good friend, the Chairman of the board, Frank Sinatra. With the help of a 22 piece band arranged by Patrick Williams, Jones is able to delicately move across styles to make these jazz standards his own. The album’s opening track, “Teach Me Tonight,” helps to set the stage for what’s to come. With Dave Grusin carrying the piano, Jones is able to prove that at 78 years of age, he is able to deliver powerful vocals.
His version of “For Once in My Life” is a standout track, taking you back to being in a smoky jazz lounge in the 1960s.
I found it hard to pick a favorite song from this project, because of how consistently strong it is. Two of my favorites are “Only the Lonely,” and “It Was a Very Good Year.” Both showcase how Jones is able to command the song, while allowing the music to complement emotional deliveries. The arrangement and evolution of these songs help to give these standards a level of emotion to make them sound new again. This was not an album that sounds like a simple tribute; it’s almost as if Jones was writing a musical letter to his good friend.
No song on his album captures this feeling better than its closer, “The Singer.” It is easy to feel every word that Jones sings, and you can also feel the love, appreciation and admiration that Jones had for Sinatra.
To take iconic songs from one of the greatest performers of the 20th century, and craft them into a proper tribute is not as easy task, but Jack Jones truly delivered. This is an album that not just Frank Sinatra fans or Jack Jones fans will enjoy, but music fans in general as well.