THE Q-BALL: A Dedication to INSPIRATION featuring the Dream Warriors, Choclair, Gerald EATON, DIVINE EARTH ESSENCE, Thrust, Wade O. Brown and ALANA BRIDGEWATER at Harbourfront's du Maurier Theatre Centre (231 Queen's Quay West), tonight (Thursday, October 25) at 8 pm. $25. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
about multimedia mogul quincy Jones, the great arranger Benny Carter once insightfully remarked, "Quincy's a guy whose success actually overshadows his talent." No doubt there are people who think the reason Jones is being saluted with The Q-Ball tribute is for orchestrating the egos involved in USA for Africa's We Are The World sing-along. They're the ones who believe the only reason the man affectionately known as "Q" got that gig was because the Thriller album he produced for Michael Jackson happened to sell about 50 million copies.
The fact is, besides having a hand in the top-selling album and single of all time, Jones has consistently done exceptional work throughout his career, which is why Time Magazine named him Influential Jazz Artist of the Century, along with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. An honour, no question, but that description may be too narrow for the scope of Jones's achievement in popular music.
Long before Michael Jackson was born, Jones was arranging R&B tracks for LaVern Baker, the Clovers and Ray Charles, doing jazz sessions with Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan, and still he found time to score classic films like Sidney Lumet's The Pawnbroker and Norman Jewison's In The Heat Of The Night, among many others.
More amazing than the sheer volume or variety of his projects is the fact that you can randomly select from any decade a song Jones touched and it won't sound dated. That becomes clear while listening through four-disc career overview The Musical Biography Of Quincy Jones, just issued by Rhino (see review, this page) as a tie-in for his entertaining though dirt-free memoirs, The Autobiography Of Quincy Jones (Doubleday).
Consider how well his swingin' Soul Bossa Nova joint worked in the context of Austin Powers. It fit just as seamlessly when the Dream Warriors sampled it for My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style, and it didn't seem out of place as the theme from the 70s television game show Definition. And to think Jones wrote the thing in 20 minutes back in 62.
"We were in a London club called Dingwalls when the DJ Gilles Peterson put on Soul Bossa Nova," recalls the Dream Warriors' King Lou about his reintroduction to the song. "When I saw people dancing to what I knew as the Definition game show theme, man, I just flipped.
"I think the way we used that sample to build the track My Definition really caught the ear of people who hadn't paid attention to hiphop before. There was something recognizable about the tune even if they didn't know why at first."
For King Lou, there's much more to celebrate about Jones than a song that took him 20 minutes to write 39 years ago. The whole point of the Q-Ball is to honour the adventurous spirit that pushes Jones, at 68, to attempt his first Broadway musical, one based on the life of Sammy Davis Jr.
"What's more interesting to me than all of Quincy Jones's accolades is that he's been able to maintain-- that's impressive. It's not so difficult to write a good song or get a deal; it's about what you do once you get there. The ability to think about what comes next and to reach for it -- Q has that in him. That's what separates the artists from the musicians and rappers."
email@example.comQUINCY JONES The Musical Biography Of Quincy Jones (Rhino) Rating: NNNIn attempting to condense the career of an artist as prolific as Quincy Jones into a four-disc boxed set, you can either touch on each significant phase or offer an informed selection of the most successful work. Once again, Rhino leans too far toward the former and devotes far too much disc space to Q's recent pop collaborations at the expense of his many classic jazz recordings and all of his early R&B work. Are three tracks with James Ingram really needed when Dinah Washington, who cut at least five albums with Q, gets only one? With only a single disc for all his film and television music, there's going to be a huge chunk missing. Wisely, Q's Ironside, Sanford & Son and Austin Powers themes are here, but leaving off all the freakishly cool funk bombs hidden on soundtracks from The Lost Man, The Italian Job and Man And Boy is a huge oversight.