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Quincy Jones: An Evening With A Legend

Solomon J. LeFlore By

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The industry doesn’t change your production - you still do what you believe in. —Quincy Jones
I love jazz! I love everything about it... the improvisation, syncopation, the forceful rhythm, and the fact that it is truly America's original art form. Its unique and innovative use of brass and woodwind instruments and the piano is jazz. And, it is as American as apple pie.

Ask 100 different people "What is jazz?" and you're likely to get 100 different answers. Its styles include Dixieland, swing, bebop, and free jazz. Jazz is America's classical music. It migrated from the early days of ragtime, and onward through swing, bop, and progressive jazz.

Jazz music has its roots in the the African-American slavery experience (the black ghettos of New Orleans at the end of the 19th century). Jazz from New Orleans in the 1920s up river to St. Louis, then to Chicago (Quincy's early teen home) and New York City as African Americans migrated north in search of a better life.

The 1930s saw the evolution of swing bands like those led by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie. At the same time great soloists emerged, virtuosi like Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. In the 1940s bebop hit, personified in the music of artists included tenor sax players John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins; alto saxophonist Charlie Parker; trumpeters Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie; pianists Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk; and guitarists Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian. Charlie Parker took all of the melodic and harmonic information available and crystallized it into bebop.

About one month ago today I had the privilege of taking a meeting with the legendary Quincy Jones ("Quincy," or "Q" as his friends refer to him). Few know the evolution of jazz like Quincy. He would object to the adjective "legendary" description because as he said, "it makes him sound old."

Trust me, Q is a living testament to the fact that chronological age is just a number. There is nothing old about Quincy Jones, especially his music. The man is the source of boundless intelligence, focus, and proactivity... and a great Daddy.

When Quincy Jones speaks, one would be wise to listen... which I was more than eager to do. He combines academic research with a wealth of personal knowledge of the music and shared many fascinating anecdotes about the great artists of jazz.

Quincy is uniquely qualified to answer questions about great artists like: Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Lesley Gore, Michael Jackson, Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, and Aretha Franklin... all (except Parker) are among the endless list of artists who Quincy has produced. Of the beboppers who emerged after World War II only Miles Davis and Quincy Jones survived as major musical presences.

While waiting in Quincy's screening room and library for our meeting to start, I was impressed by the over 25 Grammys that I saw. That is more than any other music producer in history. He's been nominated for seven Academy Awards, and has worked tirelessly shaping and reshaping American popular culture for most of his 81 years.... And, as Quincy would say, "the best is yet to come."

Did I say HOT ROCKS! Quincy Jones delivered a sultry jazz score and LP to one of the best caper films ever made. This score, one of the first Jazz scores for a major motion picture, has been endlessly sampled for four decades, and it's not hard to see why -his band consisted of: Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Grady Tate, and Ray Brown.

This LP was designed with a gatefold sleeve cut down to a 3.5-inch flap that folded down over the cast photo (to detail contribution music artist) when closed: Composed By, Conductor—Quincy Jones Performer [Musician]—Carol Kaye, Chuck Rainey, Clare Fischer, Clark Terry, Dennis Budimir, Emil Richards, Frank Rosolino, Gerry Mulligan, Grady Tate, Jerome Richardson, Mike Melvoin, Milt Holland, Ray Brown, Tommy Tedesco, Victor Feldman Producer, Arranged By—Bill Rinehart (tracks: A6), Don Altfeld (tracks: A6), Quincy Jones (tracks: A1 to A5, B1 to B6)

As I studied another of Quincy's walls of great achievements, I saw movie posters from In The Heat Of The Night; The Out Of Towners; Cactus Flower; In Cold Blood; and The Color Purple. They are bold evidence that he has worked with as many great actors, directors, and producers as he has musicians.

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