MAY 7, 2014 – By Tom Harrison for The Province

Jack Jones

Jack Jones

It’s 1968, Jack Jones is a guest on the late afternoon Mike Douglas TV show, and he’s singing Traffic’s You Can All Join In.


That Jack Jones? Singer in the Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Rat Pack mould?

That Traffic? The English band featuring Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, writer of You Can All Join In?

This is new. Maybe Jack Jones is hipper than anybody realized.

Maybe that was the idea.

Today, Jones has but a vague memory of this TV appearance, but he does remember the era.

“That was a period” he says dismissively. He was steered into testing contemporary pop/rock by a producer. “That didn’t last for very long.”

As Jones remembers it, his generation of pop/jazz singers suddenly felt insecure and left behind by the new hippie culture. Out went the suits, in came the Nehru jackets, in an effort to catch up. Jones grew his hair long and grappled with Traffic.

“It was funny clothes and flower power,” Jones recalls. “Sammy Davis Jr. was the worst offender. I did take a left turn, but I’m back where I am.”

He’s never looked back, or rather, travelled too far out of his circle. As he says on last year’s album, Jack Jones In Liverpool, I am a singer. So, he keeps abreast of trends in pop but never again will he be a slave to them. He long ago learned.

At 76 years, that once long hair is a tasteful white trim, Jones counts Earth Wind And Fire as his favourite band, is drawn to the realism of modern country and is disdainful of much of the new pop he encounters on the Internet.

“It’s monotonous,” he complains mildly. “Just repeating the same thing over and over again.”

Jones, though, could be called a chameleon. His Jack Jones In Liverpool is the best-selling album of a career that started 60 years ago. Although it might be assumed to contain a lot of songs by The Beatles, it only has John Lennon’s Imagine among show tunes, European romantic ballads, a discreet plundering of “the American songbook” and anecdotes. He might have been decades ahead of Josh Groban with his albums of Michel Legrand and Charles Aznevour or Rod Stewart with his American songbook series, but this is where the circle has brought him.

“It’s enjoyable.” he replies when the obvious is pointed out. He’s had a long career. “I just keep moving. You’ve got to keep singing, and singing well.

“People ask me, what is the secret of your longevity?” Jones concludes.