He’s been entertaining audiences with his singing since he was 19 and the wealth of experience sure shows. Jack Jones is a whirlwind force in his new gig at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel (Oct. 26-Nov. 13). The charm, enthusiasm and ability to put over a popular song are generously on display. On opening night the audience was so responsive that Jones rewarded it with a performance that was exceptionally long (about an hour and forty minutes) as he traveled through his repertoire. He seemed to get carried away with the good time he was having and infused the room with that spirit.
Jones also affably clued the crowd in with various anecdotes and comments. He injected bits of satire, as when after passionately delivering “I Am a Singer” in a tone of celebration, he confided that now he would tell what being a singer was really like and proceeded with droll lyrics of complaint. He also had fun with the sarcastic “I Can’t Wait to Miss You,” extolling the virtues of getting rid of a lover with lyrics such as “I can’t wait to miss you, so when are you leaving?”
But for all such horsing around, Jones’s strength lies in how he delivers the biggies. He can swing through “Just One of Those Things,” become mellow with “Fly Me to the Moon,” offer a bouncy version of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” and give his all with “Somewhere.” He can handle the emotion in “If You Go Away,” or soar with “People.” He excels with “Dio Como Tiamo,” about a man who is reaping the bitter results of having cheated on the love of his life. When it comes to “Impossible Dream,” he puts his own stamp on it, endowing it with narrative structure as well as the obligatory rousing climax.
Time and again he demonstrates how he can reach strong high notes and hold onto them as if in a contest, proving that the vocal strength is still there. Jones strolls the room singing to individuals, making personal connections without getting corny. One of the anecdotes he spins is a report on going to the Philippines where he was expected to sing “The Lorelei”—“the only place in the world where it was a big hit.” He had to learn it for the occasion. He also includes in his repertoire his early hit “Lollipops and Roses,” and the “Love Boat” theme from the television series.
What comes across is his exuberant personality, which renders him a welcome entertainer, one whose years of experience culminates in making the audience feel at home with a seasoned pro. There is easy-going rapport with his musicians, musical director and pianist Mike Renzi, Chris Colangelo on bass and Kendall Kay on drums.
Jones’s origins are well known—born the son of Allan Jones, famed for his singing in the Marx Brothers comedy “A Night at the Opera,” and actress Irene Hervey. He made his debut with his dad in Las Vegas at the age of 19. (Allan Jones used to live in my building, and I’d often ride in the elevator with him, staring in an attempt to recognize the youthful face of the movies singing “The Donkey Serenade” in the face of the then much older man.)
The family lore is still there, but Jack Jones has long since established himself for his own talent, and it is a pleasure to see it on display once again, after all the nominations, awards, hit albums and tours. At the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Phone: 212-419-9441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.