June 25, 2012 – by Jim Bessman for Manhattan Local Music Examiner

at the feinsteinsJack Jones is in a hurry to chow down and finish packing for his flight to New York, where the pop vocal great, who lives in La Quinta, Calif., will make his Feinstein’s at Loews Regency debut tomorrow night.
He’ll be accompanied by his trio (music director Lou Forestieri on piano, Chris Colangelo on bass, Kendall Kay on drums) and New York sax legend Houston Person during the one-week stay at Michael Feinstein’s club.
“Michael came to see us last time at the Algonquin and took us to his place for a drink when we were here two years ago,” says Jones. “We used to play the Algonquin every fall-after Labor Day-and had a great time. I loved the place, but they closed the room. Nothing lasts forever, and we took a year off of playing New York. But Feinstein’s is in a great, stylish hotel and location.”
During his June 26-30 run at Feinstein’s, Jones will feature songs from his latest album.
“It’s called Love…,” he starts saying before garbling the rest of the album title in his food.
“I’ve always wanted to plug an album with a mouthful of food!” he continues, apologetically, then clearly pronounces the title: Love Ballad. It contains a few new recordings of his 1960s pop hits including “Lollypops And Roses” “Call Me Irresponsible,” “The Impossible Dream,” and his biggest hit, the Grammy-winning “Wives And Lovers,” which was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and reached No.14 in 1964.
“We weren’t thinking very deeply in those days,” says Jones, referring to “Wives And Lovers”‘ lyrics, which called for a wife to make herself most attractive for her husband.
“Women loved the song at first,” he continues, “and then I never saw such a turnabout! They wound up hating it after I had the hit on it and got a Grammy! But times changed, and women were striving for their own identity–which they deserved, just as they now deserve equal pay for doing the same job as a man. But back then, the National Organization of Women got a hold of it and beat me to death with it!”
As Jones says, he meant no harm, and has since modified and rerecorded the song’s lyric for Love Ballad, such that you hear him singing “subliminally in the turnaround at the end”: “Hey, little boy. Cap your teeth, get a hairpiece”-a new counter to the song’s opening “Hey, little girl. Comb your hair. Fix your makeup.”
And while it’s not a love ballad as such, count on Jones performing his second-biggest hit, “The Race Is On,” which reached No.15 in 1965 and was a cover of the unrelated George Jones’ country hit classic.
“My producer brought it to me and said, ‘I bet you could do this,’ and I said, ‘Absolutely-but I can’t understand it,'” Jones recalls. “We literally slowed it down from 45 [revolutions per minute] to 33 and got the words right and had a wonderful hit on it–unexpectedly, because it was a country song! But I went to a studio in L.A. and found a kid who could play pretty good country guitar, and we made a real good country crossover record.”
And it was a hit, Jones says, because of the young guitarist “who hadn’t started singing yet, who quietly came in and quietly left-Glen Campbell!”
Upcoming for Jones is next year’s Sammy Cahn centennial, for which he already has a tribute show for theater venues. And while his repertoire is mostly made up of pop-jazz standards-many of which were hits for him and his contemporaries-he does pay attention to the current music scene.
“I’m a big Jason Mraz fan,” reveals Jones. “He did some incredible singing on his first album.”