2010/10/20 by Ricardo F. Lo – The Philippine Star

'Seniors prom' at the Big Dome PhilSTAR.com

‘Seniors prom’ at the Big Dome

Like vintage wine, Jack Jones gets better with age. He is one of the finest recording artists to come out of America, loved not only by music lovers all over the world but by composers whose songs he has recorded.
You can say that again, Jose Mari Chan.
At the Big Dome last Saturday night, Oct. 16, Jack once again regaled an estimated 8,000 fans with mostly his old songs that we never get tired listening to over and over again, bringing us back to the good old days when life was simpler, love was just ready to bloom and the world was less chaotic than it is today.
Joe Mari, who with his family (wife Mary Ann Ansaldo and their children Michael, Franco, Joe and Liza) hosted a dinner for Jack and his wife Eleonora at the Chans’ sprawling bungalow in Dasmarinas Village, Makati City, two nights earlier, was among those in the audience that also included (among those we spotted), former First Lady Imelda Marcos (on the front row beside Eleonora), Deana Jean Lopez, Mike Enriquez, Boots Anson-Roa, JullieYap Daza,Vivian Sarabia, wheelchair-bound Celia Diaz-Laurel with son Cocoy, Ronaldo Valdez and wife Baby, Baby Fores and Gretchen Cojuangco.
It was strictly “Seniors Prom,” like a long-delayed class reunion of forever Jack Jones lovers, some of them in wheelchairs, some accompanied by children who must be familiar only with the songs but not the singer and, to quote STAR columnist Baby Gil,“some of them Botoxed.”
At 72, Jack is as magnetic as ever, his voice only a bit raspy when he hit a high note (maybe due to jetlag and having just performed in Cebu the night before), but he is, yes, plakang-plaka all the way, so much like the vintage Jack Jones that if you closed your eyes it felt as if you were just replaying his “greatest hits” CD, sipping red wine in your den on a stormy night.
He’s hot,” exclaimed the ladies in the audience, some of them daring to pose for pictures with Jack when he went down the stage.
“He endeared himself to the audience with a magnificent performance, singing his songs that were the soundtrack of our lives for the last 46 years,” said Joe Mari. “His intimate rendition and reading of his songs made each one of us in the audience feel that he was serenading us one-on-one.”
Jack kicked off the two-hour solo show (there was no front act) with a new song and followed it up with I Am a Singer which he dedicated to Joe Mari, saying,“Singing is a glorious gift,” and adding as an afterthought,“We miss them (singers) the most when they are gone.” Then, he segued to familiar songs like Tony Bennett’s For Once In My Life and In Other Words, laughing at himself when he forgot some of the lyrics.
The audience erupted into a hearty applause when Jack sang Lollipops and Roses, his very first hit that won him his first Grammy Award for Best Male Performance in 1962 and which was used as title and theme of a Premiere Productions movie in the early ‘70s starring Nora Aunor and Cocoy Laurel with a then unknown named Don Johnson (remember him?).
After a 15-minute intermission, Jack opened the second portion with If You Go Away (words by Rod McKuen) from, according to Joe Mari, the French song Ne Me Quitte Pas written by Jacques Brel.The first time Jack went Jack Jones during his show at the Araneta Coliseum last Saturday night, captured by my E72 celfone down the stage was when he sang a medley of Lady and Call Me Irresponsible, holding his wife’s hand and lovingly looking at her eyes.
It was non-stop old-hits from then on ? If You Ever Leave Me, Carnival Song (of which the late Walter Navarro did a haunting version for the LEA Productions movie Stardoom, directed by Lino Brocka and starring Rosemarie Sonora), Dear Heart (by Henry Mancini), Lorelei (which is popular only in the Philippines), Dio Como Te Amo (one of Nora Aunor’s winning pieces inTawag ngTanghalan), the overused She (heard as the background song for the trailer of the new GMA soap Beauty Queen and which I recorded “live” as my celfone’s new ringtone) and the unforgettable Ella Fitzgerald song We’ll Be Together.
He must love the audience so much that Jack went down the stage several times, inviting them to sing along with him, posing for more pictures.When he sang On My Way To You, he again approached his wife. It was the same song he sang the day he and Eleonora exchanged rings at their wedding barely two years ago.
“It was one of the heart-warming moments of the show,” said Joe Mari who, like Jack, is a hopeless romantic.
The high point of the show came when Jack took off his jacket, loosened his shirt and tie and became Don Quixote with his fiery characterization in Impossible Dream, giving his all in a stirring style that made your hair stand on end, acknowledging the standing ovation with tears in his eyes. The song is from the musical Man of La Mancha which has a special significance to Jack because his father, Allan Jones, had played the role onstage and years later Jack reprised the same role.
A trivia from Joe Mari:“Allan Jones is a famous actor-singer who, in 1938, appeared with Jeanette MacDonald in the film The Firefly. His hit song from that film was The Donkey Serenade, a lilting tune that goes,There’s a song in the air but the fair senorita doesn’t seem to care for the song in the air, so I’ll sing to the mule if you’re sure that she won’t think that I am such a fool serenading the mule.” adding,“1938 was also the year Jack was born.”
Jack has been here several times in his four-decades-plus career (with performances at the Manila Hotel, the Big Dome, etc.)
Said Joe Mari,“Jack has had this long-lasting love affair with the Filipinos, a love affair that will last a lifetime.”
Oh well, if Jack Jones goes away as we know he must, we will terribly miss him, won’t we?
He didn’t do Moon River and What I Did For Love at the Big Dome that Saturday night but who cared? His awesome rendition of Impossible Dream was more than enough to make it a truly enchanted evening, making us dream the impossible dream to try when your arms are too weary to reach the unreachable star…