There’s no one like Vince Jones. In concert or in person, the man has a quiet charisma that has you spell bound. It’s been a couple of years since Jones has toured, but this Aussie artist who set the benchmark for Australian Jazz artists in the 70’s and 80’s says, that 20 albums on, ‘I am Still writing like a crazy man!
‘I have to do it every day,’ he says. ‘I am driven to write but at the same time I am a procrastinator, I get outside myself and watch myself procrastinate. I feel incomplete if I haven’t written. I need to do it to reflect on what I’ve been thinking…’
Vince works a few days a week with his band, so the rest of his time is his own. Apart from living the good life three hours south of Sydney, building the odd deck from YouTube videos, Jones has ample time to hone his craft. ‘I am much more aware of the process than I ever was. I pull myself up and get back to it, whatever time of day. I like to write any time of day, when I can; it’s not so much writing, it’s mulling over an idea, editing and improving upon it. Once I get in the loop I am away. I don’t want even a week off – that slows me down again.’
Jones is not just a man passionate about his music, he’s also passionate about politics, and in particular about the environment. Musicians, he believes, are meant to pass comment. ‘The purest dissenting form is music!’ he laughs.
‘Troubadours were traditionally given a visa to say what they like and it was seen that everyone could have a laugh, and then the troubadour would take the story from one town to the next and reflect on the politics, and so on. I love writing. It stimulates me to write about social issues…’
And now, perhaps is an extremely important time to do just that.
‘We live in conservative times,’ says Jones. ‘I think it’s the flux. I think we are moving through it and we are being held back by the conservatives. Until we can remove ourselves from a petrochemical energy source and start embracing renewables nothing will change. We are about to see the last of that bunch. They are the dinosaurs!’
So how does Vince feel about the future.
‘My fear is that this small-minded bunch have their backs to the wall. When they do this they embrace war to frighten us all. My fear is that they find the enemy to bring us back to a nationalist psyche and then we’re all sucked into a great big mess. The best option is to let the young speak. They are tomorrow’s leaders!
‘The young ones are looking for that connection back to the earth. We can’t be wasting any more time, the old guard has to move on. That’s our saviour; the Greens, they are the ones who will drag the conservatives into a non-polluting sustainable society…’
So what about music. What should music do?
‘ I was watching [ITALIC]The Voice[/ITALIC] the other night; it is so twee. It would be great to see some young cat get up and sing something left. I don’t think they’d get through; as tattoed and groovy as they look there’s not a leftie atom in their bodies…
‘When you sing, it’s about the soul, it’s the slipstream you carry inside you that gives you that little extra bit; you can’t allow your ego to get involved. I tell myself it’s about the music. How can we enhance it and improve it, take it away from me and make it an experience for the listener… how can I touch them?’
A brief, thoughtful solo from Vince is worth a hundred notes played with less discretion. Particular about the musical company he keeps, he is in quartet mode with three of the country’s finest jazz players: Matt McMahon (MD/piano), Ben Robertson (bass) and James Hauptman (drums).
Playing at Byron Theatre, Community Centre, on Saturday at 8pm and Currumbin Sound lounge on Sunday at 4.30pm.