Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mister First Nighter checks in

Last evening in L.A. I caught both sets of Jack Jones' opening night at Catalina. At one point, someone shouted out a request for his hoary old hit "The Impossible Dream." Quick as a flash, Jones shot back with an incredulous "In a jazz club?" Which is by way of my underscoring that this truly was a full-out jazz performance. The musicians, led by pianist Tom Garvin, were the same as those that accompanied him a while back in his tour of the British Isles. Jazzbos all. However, I was so taken aback by the sheer magnificense of what Jones was doing that I failed to jot down set lists. Somewhere in the remembered mist of it all I seem to recall a nearly unrecognizeable and new and improved "take" on "The Love Boat Theme," a slightly unfortunate signature tune for Jones. Also "Wives and Lovers," another of his money-makers.

Jones began the first set and for about the first half, he was displaying a mildly distracting rasp, a frog of some sort. But by the halfway point, the "frog" had been nearly done in. And come the second set, it was gone. Shoulda been the other way 'round. Go figger?

Jones in this jazzy environment was giving a pyrotechnical performance of the first order. Think more Mel Torme and less boy balladeer. The musical imagination he displayed was certainly the equal of any of the most playful and inventive of jazz singers who might leap to mind, Sarah, the aforementioned Torme, Betty Carter, et al. Bearing that in mind, then realize that he easily has twice the vocal power of almost any jazz/pop singer that you might think of. I was seated in the second row and at times he came nigh to blowing me out of my chair by the sheer force of his performance.

I could go on and on, but what I SHOULD be doing is heading back to Catalina later for Jones' closing night.

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