I have always been in awe of the music of Vince Jones. I remember the first time I heard his trademark voice and I argued for hours over whether it was a man or a woman. His voice has that otherworldly quality that has seen him at the top of his game for nearly four decades. Vince Jones is the best jazz singer in the country. Although he doesn’t see himself quite like that. Vince doesn’t even see himself as a jazz singer.
‘I wouldn’t even call myself a jazz singer although I can… I went into the ‘feel’ side of jazz: I like to impart a feeling to the individual listener. I like to take the opportunity of finding some way of expressing the lyric and the melody. I like the pure kind of emotion in a song. There aren’t many singers that think that way; usually they are just looking for the energy of it. I am doing both. It’s something you get better at. I don’t sit down and premeditate the emotion; I try to get inside it. I don’t practise singing emotion; I try and let the moment go and get inside the lyric of the song. I have good technique and it’s getting better as I get older. It is becoming a facility rather than an overbearing approach. When I sing a note you can hear there’s more in there.’
With age, Vince has learnt the truth in the adage that less is more.
Vince has an ascetic approach to his craft, where music is both the ends and the means. He has never milked the corporate cow.
‘I find music sacred. I don’t think we should demoralise or denigrate it in any way. I don’t do any corporate work or ads and I don’t do any gigs other than public gigs; no private gigs; I have a purely public band. I don’t stick to success or fame; my ambition was and still is to play music that will wash over people and nourish them. I don’t want it to be about me. The rock industry is about marketing the artist and music through that. My approach was an experiment to see what would happen and I have to say it’s not that successful!’
One of Australia’s great jazz legends, at the Byron Theatre at the Community Centre on Sunday.