Just A Quickie with… veteran American singer Jack Jones as he says farewell, or does he?
AFTER more than 50 albums, double Grammy-winning veteran American crooner Jack Jones, friend of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams and Mel Torme, is playing his farewell UK tour. Then again, the gentlemanly Los Angeles pop and swing singer may not be ready to put down the microphone after all, as Charles Hutchinson discovers

Jack, surely this can’t be right: is it true you’re saying “farewell” on this spring’s tour?

“First of all, I’m not retiring. My promoter thought it was time to do a ‘Farewell’ tour, but it’s not contrived. It probably is my farewell UK tour but none of us likes to put a cap on things.
“I got to thinking about things and I’ve come to the stage in my life where nothing is for sure, and it’s been a wonderful undertaking as I’ve put some video together, some duets and some visual anecdotes, for a video presentation in the show.
“I call it ‘the narcissist’s dream’, though I couldn’t be a narcissist as I’m too old for me now. And then I thought, maybe I wouldn’t like to pass away having not done a Farewell Tour.”

How did you put the Through The Years video together?

“I’ve put a lot of effort and research into it. I thought there would be a lot of licensing that would be difficult, but I’m not selling the video, so it’s not been a problem. It’s just for the tour, which I’m calling Through The Years.”

Wading through all those years and so many albums, how do you choose a set list for your farewell UK dates?

“Well, there’s no time to go through all the songs and the best I can do is lay out a show that has impact, recalling the things I did years ago, like the show I did at the London Palladium 22 years ago when the arrangements were fantastic. When I played there, it was the only time I recorded a live album, so I’ll be doing some of those arrangements again.
“And thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I put it out to British fans to ask them what they’d like to hear, so there’ll be a free-form section in the show for requests.”

What else will feature?

“There’ll be music from Man Of La Mancha [The Impossible Dream] and I’ll be doing some Gershwin songs from The Gershwin Album, which I did years ago in a church with the London Philharmonic, though they couldn’t be called that on the album data, but they were certainly players from that orchestra.
“I’ll also be singing a duet of Pure Imagination [from Willa Wonka And The Chocolate Factory] with jazz singer Jacob Collier, who does these Six Faces of Jacob Collier videos on YouTube. I’ll be singing live and the six faces of Jacob will come up on the screen, so that’ll be kinda nice.”

If you were to pick out your career highlight, Jack, what would it be?

“The two Grammys, they were exciting moments, in 1963 and 1965; Lollipops And Roses and then Wives And Lovers. In those days in 1963, it was an intimate occasion, where it wasn’t televised, and we just had a big ball at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
“The second time, I got asked to sing the five nominated songs, not only Wives And Lovers. I got up to sing Tony Bennett’s I Wanna Be Around, but I couldn’t remember the words, so I said, ‘Hey, Tony, come up and sing it with me’.
“Can you imagine beating Tony Bennett to an award, though of course he won many, many other times.”

Coming full circle, will you really be saying farewell and settling back into Palm Springs retirement rather than hitting the road again, Jack?

“No, I don’t want to give up performing but I do hate sitting on aeroplanes.
“I don’t know if you have this rule over there in the UK, that if you’re over 75 in the USA you don’t have to take your shoes off [for security checks] any more, but I’m wondering, ‘what makes a man of 75 any less of a threat than a man of 74?’, and I know a lot of men who’d like to be in my shoes.”

So, it’s not farewell, Jack?

“It’s probably farewell to denial of getting on in years.”