Melbourne International Jazz Festival: Van Morrison’s Masterpieces featuring Vince Jones and the Astral Orchestra

Vince Jones performing Van Morrison’s masterpieces was the event at the Melbourne Jazz Festival that I looked forward to with the most nostalgic glee. I couldn’t wait to hear in one night, on one stage, both the music and the voices of two men that heavily influenced my love affair with the genre of jazz — and subsequent embarkment on my musical career.
A bootleg version of Vince Jones singing ‘Secret Love’ that I heard when I was 15 or 16 made me want to sing jazz ballads for the rest of my life. His voice was free and used cadences in his improvisation that I’d heard nowhere else, a vocal signature dance move.
Vince Jones 2
When I closed my eyes in the Melbourne Recital Centre my ears were filled not the voice of a quietly spoken gentleman, but a voice as youthful, brave, unhesitating and free as it has been all those years ago in that recording.
Jones commented that the undertaking of this concert nearly gave him a nervous breakdown. I can well understand how that may be. The first set was not the pop classics of Van Morrison that I had expected and knew so well, but rather the album Astral Weeks performed in its entirety. Many of the songs from this album are meandering, poetic musical journeys that don’t allow the performer the reprieve of repetitive choruses or predictable structures so often heard in Western music, and so require constant attention.
In the second half Jones was joined on stage with the ethereal singer Gian Slater, as they sang some of the better known hits of Van Morrison. The virtuosity of the performers was as staggering as the program was ambitious, presenting the audience with a performance that was impressive and beautiful.
Emmanuella Grace is a voice and performance coach, singer, and founder of Find Your Voice Australia.

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs 3-12 June 2016. Read our guide to the best of the fest. Find out more about Vince Jones on his website.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Starling Communications.
Photo credit: Vince Jones and Kevin Petersen.