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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 13:35 GMT
Tom Jones and Jools Holland
Tom Jones and Jools Holland
Tom and Jools wrote three original songs for the album
In a HardTalk Extra interview screened on 5 November, singer Tom Jones and pianist Jools Holland talk about their musical collaboration and their love of "real music".

What do you get when one of the world's biggest voices teams up with a pianist who's steeped in the honky-tonk culture?

If the latest release from Tom Jones and Jools Holland is anything to go by, the result is a slab of heartfelt roots rock that celebrates music's history.

Their album, titled simply "Tom Jones and Jools Holland", is a loud and joyous mix of songs by legendary musicians -- Elvis, Count Basie, Jerry Lee Lewis and Howlin' Wolf among them -- and songs that Tom and Jools wrote themselves specially for the album.

Things happen when you're doing something live
Tom Jones
In fact, the two men decided to collaborate because they realised they loved the same music.

Jools told Miranda Sawyer that "this is the sort of music Tom and I would play if we were in a hotel room late at night or if we happened to go into a bar after we played and there was a piano there, this is the sort of music we'd play. It's the music we really love."

Recording live

The album was recorded live in the studio -- so that rather than recording each musician separately, Tom performed with the band.

The result is a fresh and exuberant sound -- as Tom explained, "things happen when you're doing something live .. everybody gets excited about it."

The two men said they were not at all intimidated by some of the great names that had originally recorded these songs.

They listened to the originals to work out the structure of the songs, but went on to "do it the way we feel it".

This is the sort of music Tom and I would play if we were in a hotel room late at night .. it's the music we really love
Jools Holland
When Tom caught up with Jerry Lee Lewis in Las Vegas some weeks ago, he decided to play the record to him and see what he thought.

"I knew that he would like it because Jerry Lee loves real music. I said, 'look, Jools is playing the piano and he's listened to you a lot, and he would like to know what you think of his playing.'

"So Jerry Lee said to me, 'how old a person is this man?' and I said, he's in his forties. 'Well, you tell that boy he can play.'"

"Soul comes with age"

After decades of playing and recording music, Tom and Jools both admit that they are still learning their craft.

The magical quality of soul -- that can lift a performance from accomplished to breath-taking -- comes with age and life experience, they said.

So what of performers like Norah Jones and Joss Stone, both of whom are experiencing commercial and critical success at a very young age?

Tom and Jools had nothing but praise for the new generation of jazz and soul musicians, but said that they will only get better with age.

Important music

Tom and Jools hope that when people hear this album, they may be encouraged to go out and discover for themselves the music that inspired it.

In an age of manufactured pop, it's clear that the two men both feel passionately that this music has something crucial to say.

"This music is such important music," Jools said. "It is the root of popular music, which does get forgotten about, and I think that the poetry of it, the words are about a different attitude.

"They're about being very direct with the poetry and hitting the target, the marrow of the words that go straight into your heart."

HARDtalk Extra can be seen on Fridays on BBC World at 04:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 19:30 GMT and 00:30 GMT

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30

SEE ALSO:
Harry Shearer - a radio rebel?
10 Nov 04 |  Hardtalk
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
25 Oct 04 |  Hardtalk


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