Vince Jones – The Art of Protest

ACF21-Vince-Jones-The-Art-of-Protest-photo-by-Claudio-RaschellaThe artist doth protest too much! Well not enough really! Last night was an opportunity to see Australia’s premier jazz man in action.

Vince Jones first came to my attention in 1990, when he released the Come in Spinner album which was a collaboration with Grace Knight of Eurogliders fame. This was a soundtrack to the highly successful ABC TV mini-series of the same name and the album was devoted to songs of the swing era.

It was not only an opportunity to hear Grace Knight sing another style, but a worthy introduction to the dulcet tones of this expert jazz artist. Anybody who does songs of that genre and era well, has me at hello!

Over the years, Vince has gone on to prove his creative talent having won three APRA Awards from four nominations, three ARIA Awards from nine nominations and has been nominated twice for the Australian Jazz Bell Awards. Never having seen Vince live, this was a night I was looking forward to.

The theme of last night’s performance The Art of Protest was an opportunity to hear songs with one theme. All of them are powerful protest songs in their own right.

The first act opened with Vince’s lilting flugelhorn solo to Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. The lyrics of this song are no less powerful now than they were in the fifties as the expert musicians did this number justice.

It was such an eclectic mix of songs as the band next went into their version of John Lennon’s Imagine, Josh O’Keefe’s When Mother Nature Calls and Gil Scott-Heron’s Winter in America.

The first act closed out with audience favourites: John Schumann’s Only 19 and Marvin Gay’s What’s Going On. I did spy John Schumann in the audience last night, and hope he enjoyed the treatment Vince gave to his Australian national anthem!

The second act was no less engaging, opening with Kev Carmody’s Thou Shalt Not Steal and Archie Roach’s Took The Children Away.

We were then treated to a couple of Vince Jones originals. Firstly, Luncheon with the President, portraying his love of President George Bush Jnr (Sarcasm Alert!), and then his insightful and intelligent The Nature of Power.

What program of protest songs would be complete without the classics Blowin’ in the Wind and If I Had a Hammer? The band finished with one out of left field: Pink’s Dear Mister President.

All songs were performed with Vince’s inimitable jazz style where his vocal phrasing and instrumental breaks all go to producing something very unique.

Vince was ably supported by his five piece band under the musical direction of Matt McMahon. All musicians were experts in their own right with stand-out solos by saxophonist John Mackey.

The evening was narrated by the very engaging Brian Nankervis of RocKwiz fame and was over way too quickly. Very cool Mr Jones. Very cool!

Vince Jones – The Art of Protest
Dunstan Playhouse – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Street, Adelaide
Performance: Saturday 19 June 2021

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Image: Vince Jones – photo by Claudio Raschella