January 6, 2016 by Edgar O. Cruz for The Daily Tribune

JACK’S WORLD-CLASS CONCERT! In Jack Jones Sings Songs from the Heart, the legendary singer Jack Jones performed his repertoire of hits mixed with timeless classics on Dec. 29 at the Kia Theatre. As expected, it showcased his great artistry and surfaced its extraordinary aspects previously unknown even to his most diehard fan.

At 77, Jack displayed his ability to crack the sound barrier with age-defying vocal registers. He showed this many times over during the night by extending his high notes in different ranges.

Presented by ManCo Productions Inc. and Royale Chimes Concerts and Events, Inc. in cooperation with Echo Jham Productions as adroitly directed by Calvin Murphy Neria, Jack with world-class performers Jose Mari Chan, Gerphil Flores and the Consortium of Voices delivered a fascinating world-class program unexpected for its bravura.

The Kilyawan Consortium of Voices set the concert tone by opening with mesmerizing Christmas carols accompanied by a grand piano that made the season’s spirit soar.

Switching to a full band that opened with a hint of “Sound of Music” air, Gerphil finally broke into a wholehearted rendition of a kundiman, “Minamahal.” Her duet with Jose Mari Chan prepped for his solo segment. He performed his signature hits that he usually introduced with a repartee.

After a short break that allowed the backup brand to switch to Jack’s musicians, a trio of grand piano, bass and percussion, Jack launched his segment with a Sound of Music Medley consisting of “My Favorite Things, “Sound of Music” and “Climb Every Mountain.”

Lover of the big-band era, Jack as an artist with a swinging voice creates a distinct interpretation, consistently proving himself to be a master at seeing beyond the composer’s notes and lyrics. Thus he discovers and interprets the real message behind each composition, subsequently revealing all to his audience.

That was how he treated his repertoire, a vocalist with class, singing in many styles, with a powerful voice and an amazing vocal range. But he was not beyond catering to audience wants.

Then it was hit after hit after hit: “Without a Song,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Angel Eyes,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “If I Rule the World,” “Teach Me Tonight” “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life,” “I’d Be Nothing At All,” “Girl Talk,” “The Love Boat” and “She.”

“Teach Me Tonight” was the only track he sang from his latest CD, Seriously Frank, which pays tribute to what would have been the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra.

“The Love Boat” is his upbeat tune, the theme from the hit American TV series that ran for 13 years.

Jack was also an audience pleaser. He went down the stage to sing to them up close and personal. He did not hesitate with selfie opportunities, even at times initiating them.

Then Jack launched the most-anticipated portion of the concert, his well-loved songs, the performances simple but thoughtful. As the show’s title suggested, Jack pledged to heartfelt love songs and ballads to envisage memories of his younger self.

As he loosened his tie to remove it with his coat, he narrated how he had been active on the musical theater in the last two decades. He once refused to go on tour of the US performing Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha but reconsidered and was acclaimed by the critics.

The song is sung once in the musical by Don Quixote as he stands vigil over his armor, in response to Dulcinea’s question about what he means by “following the quest.” Jack voice-acted out the scene before launching into an outstanding rendition of “The Impossible Dream,” the musical’s theme song.

This was followed by “The Lorelei,” the Filipinos’ favorite song that did not turn a worldwide hit as it was not promoted by its record label.

As Jose Mari failed to come out when Jack was ready to do their duet, Jack he was forced to “jump” to the next song which was the Bread’s classic, “If.”
Since Jose Mari was at the sideline, he was ready to duet “Wives and Lovers” that effectively broke the sentimental tone the concert had developed. This was a welcome relief before the cast finale number, a simple stroke of genius from director Calvin.

Alternating in the vocal parts of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on the Open Fire),” Jack, Jose Mari, Gerphil, and the Kilyawan Consortium of Voices greeted the audience “Merry Christmas” in unison, a heartfelt ending.
When it was over, the audience clamored for more which Jack acknowledged with an encore.

The following night, on Dec. 30, Jack had a second show at the Monet Ballroom of Novotel Manila Araneta Center with a slightly different repertoire. Jorge Araneta and wife Stella Marquez-Araneta graced the concert.

Jack’s shows weren’t game changing by any means, but by the way he executed it, he meant it to be outstanding. At his late age, Jack is still an accomplished singer, one of the best of his generation. At this point in his career, he’s at least earned the right to work on a formula that he managed to deliver in an entertaining manner, which was what matters.