Dividing his time these days between New York and Australia, singer Jack Jones is currently back in the place he calls ‘home’ for a very special, limited season of ‘All You Need is Love’, a production that showcases 30 Beatles masterpieces carefully selected from the vast Beatles catalogue and performed by four extremely talented singers backed by the 40 piece Strawberry Fields Rock Orchestra. Jack is joined by fellow vocalists Ciaran Gribbin, Darren Percival and Jackson Thomas, each taking their turn at their individual interpretation of Beatles songs.
The singer has been performing in similar productions, based around Beatles music, for the past decade and Jack is delighted that he has been given the regular opportunity of being a part of it all. “These shows have been a regular occurrence for the last ten or twelve years in one form or another,” he explains during our recent interview. “And it’s such a pleasure to be able to come back, seeing as I’m living in New York these days. I’m very, very lucky and of course the body of work is great. I get to come back and sing with a great band and this time we’re doing it with a full orchestra, the same as last year which is amazing. This is the second time they have done the show with an orchestra. It’s pretty exciting and singing in front of a huge orchestra, there really is nothing like it.”
Jack feels privileged to be working with such a great ensemble of artists and to have such an incredible catalogue of music to work with. “When you put those two things together, it’s hard not to get it right. You don’t want to be like a tribute show. You want to be paying homage to one of the most influential and greatest bands of all time.”
As well as a group of superb lead vocalists, Jack points out that the show all comes together under the expert guidance of Musical Director Paul Gray, Conductor Nicholas Buc, strings master Adrian Keating and Vocal Arranger/Backing Vocalist, Lindsay Field. “We definitely have the crème de la crème of people in all their respective fields so it’s pretty exciting.”
He is also full of admiration for the team behind the production. “We’re very fortunate with Phil (Bathols) and Tim (Woods). They give us the kind of creative licence to interpret. They trust, I guess, that our intention is never to murder The Beatles or to brutalise those amazing songs but to just feel like you’re being authentic in how you’re interpreting it and in some way make it your own but don’t go so far away from the original that people don’t recognise it obviously.”
“This is a really great group of singers too with Darren, Jackson and Ciaran. They’ve been so gracious as human beings. When we did our first and only rehearsal for these shows, it felt so comfortable. You walk in the room and everyone’s smiling. Of course we’re all smiling! We’re happy. We’re singing The Beatles! How can you go wrong with that? What’s not to be happy about?”
Unlike previous Beatles shows which Jack has been a part of, this one does not focus on one album or one era of their music. ‘All You Need is Love’ encompasses the entire Beatles history and songs have been chosen for their arrangements to be played with a full orchestra.
Jack is in awe of what The Beatles achieved musically in what was essentially a short space of time. “How did they come up with these incredible lyrics and incredible arrangements and in such a brief period of time? Where that band started and ended up, it’s just phenomenal; it blows me away. Eight years of recording, I think and ten years together… I know people that have lost a decade! And these guys, in that time, really changed the face of music; changed the face of recording. And, at that time, it was a quantum leap from recording a bunch of guys around one microphone to four tracks! Just the vision that it takes to make a record like that with such complexity and it’s such genius! Until I really started pulling The Beatles recordings apart, I never really had a true appreciation of just how extraordinary, on every level, the band was. Take one element; just take the music. That’s enough to drive you mad. And to think that there are all these other elements to it and of course George, his contribution just continues to astound me.”
“I feel very, very lucky,” he says, humbly. “I have to pinch myself sometimes when we’re doing these shows. Because we’ve been doing it for quite a while, I’ve never gotten complacent or blasé about it. Every time I get the call, it’s so brilliant, thanks guys, to be able to celebrate that music and come home.” Even though Jack has been spending most of his time in New York, he still thinks of Australia as home and looks forward to any opportunity to come back here.
Jack still has family in Australia and enjoys catching up with them whenever he is here. “It’s a real pleasure to be able to come back here and to be able to just celebrate great music and massive Christmas dinners and have usually a very, very chilled New Year’s Eve.” Rehearsals are usually on the first of January or thereabouts. “So you’ve got to take it easy and it’s nice to see the New Year in in a civilised manner. And get straight into work.”
Musically, he has also been making the most of his time in New York. “I’ve really been taking the opportunity to interact with different players, write with different writers and really kind of find my own sound in New York. There’s a great gig there called Rockwood Music Hall which I always feel honoured to play at. It’s an iconic sort of New York venue. It’s not a massive room or anything. They’ve got three rooms that are so intimate and a really appreciative audience and I’ve been writing with a couple of really great songwriters and they’ve become sort of song writing mentors but also they’ve become my mates. A guy named James Maddock and another guy named Freddie Stevenson who I think are extraordinary and I’ve been working with a friend of mine named Roy Harter. He’s got an extraordinary way about him.”
Jack reveals that he has been working on ‘a whole bunch of songs’ and is hoping to have something out this year. “I’m back with a vengeance in the new year,” he announces, enthusiastically. “I’m feeling inspired and life is kicking along and I can’t say I’ve got any complaints. I’m really excited about 2016. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s going to yield.”
‘All You Need is Love’ plays at Hamer Hall in Melbourne on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th January and at the Festival Theatre in Adelaide on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th February. For full details and to book tickets, click here.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved