Quincy Jones: Celebrating Seven Decades of Music


Quincy Jones, in a uncommon second, is enjoyable. He lounges on an overstuffed couch in his house ­screening room whereas sipping from his frequent drink of selection as of late -- a protein-rich smoothie whipped up by his prepare dinner. It’s fairly a change for this ­longtime wine connoisseur, whose favorites have ranged from a 1961 Château Pétrus to Italian Barbarescos.

The previous yr, throughout which Jones turned 85, has been nonstop: a world tour to have a good time his milestone birthday in March, a raft of recent enterprise offers and the debut of Quincy, the Netflix ­documentary about his profession and private life. But on this second, he's taking inventory.

“I’ve been doing quite a lot of reflecting on every part,” he says. “It’s simply astounding. You understand how little we've got to do with it. It’s all, ‘Let go and let God.’ I’m severe.”

He pauses to munch on freshly made kale chips. Amid well being points, Jones stopped ingesting three years in the past. “Alcohol numbs you, and I’m so un-numbed now,” he says. “I’ve by no means been so artistic in my life.”

That’s tough to digest while you look across the screening room and soak up Jones’ accomplishments over the previous seven a long time. Decorated with posters of the varied motion pictures he has scored and soundtracked (The PawnbrokerThe Color PurpleIn the Heat of the NightThe Italian Job), the memory-steeped area is adjoining to an equally mesmerizing entryway.

That space is full of covers of Jones-produced albums, autographed sheet music for the star-studded charity single “We Are the World” and candid pictures of Jones with greats akin to Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra (“the primary man to name me ‘Q,’” says Jones), Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. Glass and wooden show circumstances home his 27 Grammy Awards -- ­together with producer of the yr (with Jackson) for 1983’s album of the yr, Jackson’s Thriller. Not seen: his 1977 Emmy Award for excellent music composition for a collection (Roots), his 1994 Academy Award (he was the primary African-American to obtain the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [AMPAS]) and the 2016 Tony Award as a producer for the perfect revival of a musical (The Color Purple).

It’s a journey that has led to a different extraordinary yr. Jones was feted at 4 birthday live shows over the ­summer season: on the O2 Arena in London (that includes Mark Ronson, Corinne Bailey Rae and Lalah Hathaway); Italy’s Umbria Jazz Festival (Take 6, Ivan Lins and Patti Austin); the Budapest Jazz Festival (Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jones’ protégé, the pianist Alfredo Rodriguez) and the Montreux Jazz Festival. The lattermost celebration -- that includes Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and Robert Glasper’s R+R=Now amongst its lineup of shock company --  was filmed for Qwest TV, the primary subscription, video-on-demand service for jazz that Jones co-founded.

At press time, Jones was getting ready for yet one more birthday celebration. Featuring a star-studded visitor record together with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Dave Chappelle, LL Cool J and Gladys Knight, Q 85: A Musical Celebration for Quincy Jones is being produced by veteran Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich for BET Networks. Taped on Sept. 25 at L.A. Live’s Microsoft Theatre, the particular will air at a later date to be introduced.

On the evening of his birthday, March 14, Jones was up till eight a.m. the ­following morning, holding court docket with a number of 20-something associates of his son Quincy Jones III -- immigrants from Sweden and different international locations -- speaking about ­know-how of the longer term.

“That insatiable curiosity is what makes him tick,” says his daughter Rashida Jones as she remembers that night. “It’s the ­philosophy that there’s by no means going to be a time while you cease studying. My dad doesn’t simply say that. He actually lives that approach.”

But with the highs this yr have come lows, most notably the dying of longtime good friend Aretha Franklin. She and Jones co-produced her 1973 Atlantic album, Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky). “I don’t go to funerals anymore,” says Jones, who was a major-league fan of Franklin’s fried hen and rhubarb-and-peach ­cobbler. “We’re dropping so many individuals. I simply can’t deal with it.”

And earlier in 2018, Jones ignited a media firestorm with incendiary ­feedback he made about Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, The Beatles and others in ­interviews with GQ and Vulture. After a household intervention by his six daughters, Jones tweeted a public apology.

“I've LEARNED MY LESSON,” he wrote partially. “It’s obvious that ‘wordvomit’ & bad-mouthing is i­nexcusable ... this has contradicted the very actual messages I attempted to relay about racism, inequality, homophobia, poverty.”

Looking again, Jones says: “My ­daughters kicked my ass. But I like them and my son, my infants, a lot.” Asked if he was nervous about any revelations in Quincy -- which Netflix premiered Sept. 21 -- he replies, “I can’t get any extra nervous after GQ. I’ll by no means try this once more.”

For all his profession accomplishments, Jones reveals that music substituted for the absence of his mom all through his life. After introducing him to music at an early age, she was hospitalized for psychological sickness when he was 7 years outdated. “I mentioned, ‘If I don’t have a mom, I’m going to let music be my mom,’” he remembers. “The solely worry in my life after she was taken away to a state ­psychological hospital was to not ever be ­totally ready for an important alternative.”

Born in Chicago and raised in Bremerton, Wash., and later Seattle, Quincy Delight Jones Jr. immersed himself in music. Learning piano, then the trumpet, a 14-year-old Jones met operating buddy/mentor Ray Charles at a Seattle membership after phrase unfold round city a couple of gifted, 17-year-old blind musician-singer who had relocated from Florida. “I miss him a lot,” says a wistful Jones. “If he was round proper now, we’d in all probability be moving into bother. Ray was a wild sucker who made me ­admire all types of music. He taught me my first music in braille.”

Soon afterward, Jones was taking part in ­trumpet in bands behind singers Billie Holiday (at age 14) and Billy Eckstine (at 15); he would carry out at bar mitzvahs in addition to at strip golf equipment. After transferring east to attend Berklee College of Music, Jones left the varsity to launch his profession as a trumpeter, pianist and arranger for Lionel Hampton’s huge band. That led to a transfer to New York, the place Jones started arranging and recording songs for his good good friend Charles in addition to for Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Basie and Sinatra (the latter two teamed with Jones for a swinging tackle “Fly Me to the Moon”).

Beyond all these Grammys, his profession milestones vary from four million-selling singles by 1960s pop celebrity Lesley Gore (together with the anthem “You Don’t Own Me”) to the historic triumph of Jackson’s 1982 LP, Thriller. There are additionally the ­critically acclaimed movie and stage ­productions, in 1985 and 2005 respectively, of The Color Purple, and victories on the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys. Not to say producing “We Are the World” for African famine reduction in 1985.

Some of these achievements got here on the expense of his well being. In 1974, Jones was sidelined by two operations for mind aneurysms. Three years in the past, he fell right into a diabetic coma. More not too long ago, as proven within the documentary, he was hospitalized by one other well being scare: a blood clot. But he’s not able to be counted out simply but.

“This is a man who has gotten up each time he has fallen,” says Quincy Jones Productions president Adam Fell. “He simply by no means offers up. And that, after all, leads us to proceed combating for initiatives that he’s enthusiastic about doing.”

Jazz pioneer Herbie Hancock, who describes himself as Jones’ “brother,” says, “Quincy is a person of simple braveness, ­tenacity, artistry, power and integrity who sees obstacles as challenges.” The two have identified one another for the reason that early ’60s when Jones had notched one other ­breakthrough: the primary black man to be named vice chairman at a serious label, Mercury Records. “That’s a lesson that we will all be taught from,” says Hancock, “and one that's notably related at the moment.”

Jones is overseeing a slate of initiatives that will be daunting for somebody half his age. His artist administration roster contains pianist Rodriguez, two-time Grammy winner Jacob Collier and blind piano ­prodigy Justin Kauflin, together with Jonah Nilsson, Richard Bona, American Idol runner-up Clark Beckham and two latest ­signings: singer Shelea Frazier and ­trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.

For Jones, it’s all about paying it ahead. “These youngsters are going to show music the wrong way up,” he guarantees of the roster that he affectionately calls the “Global Gumbo All-Stars.” “I used to be fortunate to have mentors like Count Basie, Ray Charles, Clark Terry and Benny Carter who put me on their shoulders after I was younger and cared about me. Now it’s an honor to place these youngsters on my shoulders.”

Jones’ investments prolong properly past artists. After greater than 20 years, Jones fulfilled his longtime dream of opening the primary in a collection of name-branded golf equipment. Through a licensing deal in affiliation with Versace, Q’s Bar & Lounge opened in 2016 on the Versace Hotel in Dubai.

An early investor in Spotify and in corporations akin to Glympse and Zig, Jones not too long ago helped again the startup Jammcard, billed by Forbes as “LinkedIn for musicians.” Jones, who has additionally launched a brand new shoe assortment with dressmaker Jon Buscemi, nonetheless maintains his affiliation with Harman/JBL headphones and is engaged on a brand new undertaking with Los Angeles-based clothes/attire firm Apolis.

For Jones, whose prior ­entrepreneurial ventures have included TV reveals (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and Vibe ­journal, every part has stemmed from his ­aversion to 1 phrase: ­unimaginable. “I’ve been instructed on a regular basis that ­one thing’s unimaginable or no one has ever performed ­something like that earlier than,” he says. “I’ve since realized how essential it's to be ­underestimated. When you’re ­underestimated, folks get out of your approach. That’s how I made The Color Purple.”

Jones’ manufacturing firm is concerned in a number of different movie and TV initiatives. In a cope with ABC-owned Lincoln Square Productions, Jones and Fell are at work on a scripted miniseries about Jones’ life. The first draft of a screenplay for one more long-gestating movie -- about black ­gangsters the Jones Boys from Chicago, the place Jones (no relation) spent his early ­childhood -- has been accomplished. Jones additionally has teamed with former AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs to co-produce a documentary in regards to the black expertise in American movie, and he’s reportedly eyeing ­potential Broadway ventures in partnership with Arcara, co-producer of Wicked and The Book of Mormon.

Meanwhile, music nonetheless drives him. When Quincy premiered Sept. 21, so did an unique music from Jones and Mark Ronson, “Keep Reachin’,” that includes Chaka Khan. In late 2017, Jones’ Qwest Records launched Dangerous Man, the debut album by Barbra Streisand’s son Jason Gould, which Jones co-produced. Later this yr, Jones will debut a tribute to Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki that was co-composed with Rodriguez.

“I used to take a seat up at evening and write so lengthy that my eyes would bleed,” says Jones of his fervor for orchestration that dates again to his Seattle days. “It was all the time raining there, so I simply wrote and wrote on a regular basis. I don’t suppose I’d have change into a composer and arranger if I hadn’t been residing in Seattle.”

To today, Jones begins writing music at midnight (“that’s when the muses are out”) and goes to mattress between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Then it’s again into the swing of issues ranging from three p.m. to four p.m.

That imaginative and prescient powers a busy schedule that now stretches past 2019 and into 2020. In his position as artist ambassador to the Montreux Jazz Festival, he helped safe Elton John for the 2019 version, the place John will play two of the final reveals of his profession. In New York subsequent spring, he and director Steve McQueen will collaborate on the opening ceremony for The Shed, a brand new performing-arts heart that’s a part of the High Line public area. In 2020, plans are afoot to interrupt floor on the very first Quincy Jones Music School, on Turtle Island in Indonesia. Architect Frank Gehry is consulting with Cherie Liem, who's redeveloping your entire island.

“I used to be occupied with retiring,” says Jones with a chuckle, “however I believe I’m going to let someone else try this. With ­every part that’s occurring, it’s too thrilling. But trying again, this journey fascinates me as a result of it’s largely about divine intervention. The best mind-set for a artistic particular person is the flexibility to stability between making it occur and letting it occur.”

One factor he’d wish to see occur within the business: guaranteeing that creatives are equitably compensated. “I need us to determine assure a enterprise that may deal with the those who create it. There are too many bean counters sitting there attempting to take all the cash.

“And that’s on a parallel path with ­racism,” continues Jones, a fervent social activist who labored with civil rights ­pioneers akin to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Nelson Mandela. “This is a time of change. God is pushing this shit proper in our faces so we will do one thing about fixing it.”

As for predicting the subsequent pattern in music, Jones says he doesn’t know what that will probably be simply but. But no matter it's, it has to ­characterize the present technology. “Hip-hop does a few of that, however I believe there’s far more to say,” he says. “Like Hamilton. I hadn’t seen something like that since 1958, after I spent my final greenback to see Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. I additionally see it popping out of kids like Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar.”

When the interview finally turns to how he views his legacy, Jones shortly fires again with a definitive reply. “I don’t take into consideration that. It’s not my ­choice. That’s as much as others. All I do know is that I really feel like 19 or 20 years outdated once more.” Invoking his favourite phrase, “YOLO KOKO” (an acronym for “you solely dwell as soon as, carry on ­keepin’ on”), Jones concludes: “It’s an thrilling time to be alive. I simply need to keep vertical for some time longer.”

'Quincy' On Netflix: An 'Incredibly Candid' Portrait

After debuting on Netflix, the intimate documentary Quincy, co-directed by daughter Rashida Jones, may have a restricted theatrical launch.

Actress, author and producer Rashida Jones remembers with fun that when Tribeca Productions CEO/co-founder and household good friend Jane Rosenthal approached her to co-direct a documentary about her legendary father, Quincy Jones, “I had an instantaneous sinking feeling. It was pleasure and dread all on the identical time, as a result of I knew it could be a monstrous mountain to climb. But Jane was proper -- I needed to do it.”

Armed with a rented 5D digicam (“I had additionally by no means used a digicam in my life”), Rashida started to scale that mountain by filming her dad on the 2013 Montreux Jazz Festival. The end result, 5 years later, is the intimate, two-hour Quincy, co-directed by Alan Hicks (Keep On Keepin’ On). Following its premiere on the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 9), the documentary launched globally on Netflix (Sept. 21) and may have a restricted theatrical launch.

The hardest problem Quincy offered was determining a narrative to inform that hadn’t already been chronicled intimately in earlier documentaries, like Quincy Jones: In the Pocket, filmed in 2001 for the PBS American Masters collection, or books such because the producer’s 2002 autobiography.

Rashida settled on creating an intimate, genuine have a look at her father from the attitude of his inside circle -- “a full-spectrum portrait of what he’s really like with household and associates,” as she places it, including: “This is a love letter to my dad in quite a lot of methods, as a result of he’s performed quite a lot of unbelievable issues. However, I didn’t need to try this on the expense of telling the true story.”

Indeed, a number of the most emotional -- and, sometimes, jarring -- scenes in Quincy play out throughout his latest hospital stays and a very shaky second throughout an onstage presentation.

“My intuition as his daughter is to be very protecting of him,” says Rashida. “So the hospital stuff was an enormous dialog. But the rationale we determined that it was tremendous was as a result of this isn’t an exploitative film. I wished to be sincere about who he's. Part of that's somebody who pushes himself actually laborious and stops caring for himself on the expense of ahead movement.

“He is aware of that,” she continues. “Every couple of a long time or so, he’ll have an extremely sobering second the place he nearly doesn’t make it and has to recalibrate.”

While nothing was off-limits when it got here to the movie’s subject material -- “My dad is extremely candid and was OK with it,” says Rashida -- the filmmakers determined towards re-editing the completed movie to revisit the journal firestorm that occurred earlier in 2018, with Jones’ blunt remarks in interviews.

The overriding theme of Quincy focuses not solely on Jones’ distinctive success but in addition how hard-won that stage of accomplishment was for a black man in America.

Viewers are given a front-row seat to Jones’ childhood within the 1930s, his struggle for equality within the civil rights period and present advocacy in at the moment’s turmoil-wracked world. Throughout his life, Jones has tried to interrupt down societal and cultural obstacles by means of his distinctive musicianship.

“People ask, ‘Why this movie now? He’s 85 and his story has been lined,’ ” says Rashida. “The reality is, we’re at a crossroads on this nation. The seed of this film -- my dad’s contributions and pushback plus inevitable relationship with being a black man in America -- is a vital theme. This is the precise time for that message.”

-- G.M.

Quincy Jones' Qwest TV Showcases Global Scope of Jazz

French musical director Reza Ackbaraly groups with Jones to launch an on-demand TV platform.

What began as an off-the-cuff chat about jazz in 2015 on the Jazz à Vienne competition in France has emerged as a web based video channel devoted to the American artwork type.

Festival musical director Reza Ackbaraly met Jazz à Vienne honoree Quincy Jones on the occasion, the place their dialog led to grousing in regards to the dearth of jazz on cable TV within the United States. “Quincy requested me to develop a channel as a result of he knew I used to be concerned in video. I mentioned, ‘Really?’ And he replied, ‘I don’t joke.’ ”

Ackbaraly started constructing a subscription-based, on-demand channel counting on his 12 years of expertise because the producer of recent jazz/world music programming at French TV music channel Mezzo.

“We see Qwest TV because the Netflix for jazz and ‘past’ music, like African and conventional kinds,” says Ackbaraly. Still in beta, Qwest will launch in October on iOS, Android and Amazon Fire TV, with Roku following in December. It already options archival live shows from such jazz greats as Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk and John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, and jazz documentaries. Live units are deliberate by currrent stars.

Ackbaraly says that working with Jones is awe-inducing. “Quincy is 85 and he’s nonetheless so enthusiastic, so curious. We’re each open-minded in the way in which we see the jazz world linked to classical, Brazilian, African, and we’re into the multigenerational. We speak about jazz values lots -- the custom, the respect, the laborious work, the variety, the transitions between genres. That’s our imaginative and prescient.”  


This article initially appeared within the Sept. 29 challenge of Billboard.