leading jazz vocalist, Vince Jones, is also a remarkable
interpreter and composer of songs in a contemporary jazz style
- a style that appeals equally to listeners and his musical
peers. As a vocalist he resists showing off technique to the
detriment of feel - he's confident in his musical literacy
and sings like there's nothing to prove. It's a refreshing
approach that gives us, the audience, the chance to be really
moved. Vince Jones also plays trumpet and over the years his
style has developed a distinctive reserve and subtlety - he
plays a little less and draws a good deal more from it than
he did in earlier days. A brief, thoughtful solo from Vince
is worth a hundred notes played with less discretion.
in Glasgow, Vince and his family came to live in Australia
when he was 11 years old. He grew up in Wollongong, NSW, listening
to his musician father's collection of great jazz albums,
and the feel, style and essence of the music became a natural
part of Vince's world. Starting his jazz performance journey
as a bebop trumpet player, the young man had no idea that
in 10 years, then 20 years - his superb voice would touch
the hearts and minds of many listeners - in Australia and
beyond. At 20, Vince began playing the club circuit in Melbourne.
He was drawn to R&B music - a genre in which the emotive force
of the voice is matched by technical and improvising skills.
To a young man steeped in jazz and blessed with a good voice
- it was natural to meld these elements together and so began
the evolution of Australia's great jazz vocalist.
first album Watch What Happens, released in 1981, was a quiet,
strong statement - showcasing his vocal and songwriting talent
in tandem with stylish accompaniment. A loyal following developed
and with each album and tour the Australian audience grew.
Though never a mainstream artist, Vince Jones was actually
very popular - demonstrated through album sales figures and
audience numbers. Other more media-hungry performers may have
filled the column inches and airwaves - but Jones was selling
more records and tickets in the atmospheric venues and certainly
making people listen and think. The second album, Spell, came
out in 1983, followed by a new album each year until It All
Ends in Tears in 1988. Five more albums were produced from
1992 until 1999's Live recorded at the Basement in Sydney.
Through the 1990s Vince Jones and his band found success on
the European circuit making an impression on reviewers, audiences
and promoters. They played to packed houses in Germany, London,
Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands including the major
festivals - the North Sea, Montreux, Aarhus - and a range
of more intimate venues.
success has been found in the USA in recent years. Jones uses
his voice as an expressive instrument and the lyric as a vehicle
for story and comment - a balance found in the roots of jazz.
It comes from the blues of the Afro-Americans and the melodies
of the Celtic folk tradition and the heart of Vince Jones'
work is in that intersection. He has retained complete independence
in the production and repertoire of his albums despite that
in Australia they're marketed through major labels. The songs
he chooses - written by him or by others - always make an
original, personal statement.
Like the best in jazz and improvising styles - the moment
of creativity occurs at the point of execution as much as
it does at the time of the original composition, and Vince
Jones walks this line with finesse and respect. Jones' dedication
to his music is equalled by his passion for the health of
This is what drives Vince Jones - his love of the bush, like
his love of music, includes the challenging bits alongside
the easy, beautiful bits. So his perspective is humble, humanistic
and not afraid to speak out. These days he has returned to
the South Coast of NSW and when not performing and recording
he'll be putting time into conservation and human freedom
issues he believes in - including local problems such as the
slipping of the Illawarra escarpment.
In late 1999, Vince's twelfth CD - 'Vince Jones Live' - was
released. Recorded at The Basement in Sydney where he has
performed for a number of years, the album has been well received:
"The sonic quality here is remarkable
for a live album . . . it's a mystery that Jones isn't
a household name." Rolling Stone "Vince Jones is living
proof that independence is not about genres .... He's
a soulful survivor, with a voice as cool as a long G&T
and a repertoire that balances jazz, rock and soul."
Beat Magazine "
Backed by a first-rate band (Sam Keevers, James Muller,
Adam Armstrong and Simon Barker) he offers tried-and-true
originals alongside songs borrowed from sources as diverse
as Leonard Cohen ('Hallelujah'), Aretha Franklin and Pete
Seeger. Jones sings with undeniable sincerity....."
The Bulletin - January, 2000