Very few musicians, let alone people in general, are recognizable by the first initial of their first name. Quincy Jones, or Q, is one such person. Even though he started out as a jazz trumpeter, Q’s musical gifts were not confined to just one genre.
Quincy Jones was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago and raised in Seattle. He began studying trumpet and sang in a gospel choir at age 12 while in junior high school. Being very serious, and obviously very good, Jones continued his musical studies at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he remained until the opportunity to tour with the great Lionel Hampton’s band as trumpeter, arranger, and part-time pianist lured him away. The next stop was the musical Mecca, New York, in 1951 where his reputation as an arranger spread like a virus. By the mid-50’s, Jones was arranging and recording for legendary artists Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington and Cannonball Adderly. Not to shabby for someone in their twenties!
While there is so much more to Q’s bio, his creativity is the focus here. His career has included the roles of composer, record producer, artist, film producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, TV producer, record company executive, magazine founder and multi-media entrepreneur. Not one to be locked in genre prison, Quincy was a master innovator of musical hybrids, combining pop, soul, hip-hop, jazz, classical, African and Brazilian music into an amalgam of styles, traversing virtually every medium, including records, live performance, movies and television. Mr. Jones’ reach touched the lives and careers of many musicians in many genres. His landmark 1989 album, Back on the Block, was named “Album of the Year” at the 1990 Grammy Awards-brought such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis together with rappers Ice T, Big Daddy Kane and Melle Mel to create the first fusion of bob and hip-hop. His 1993 critically acclaimed Miles and Quincy Live at Montreux, won a Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance. As a producer and conductor of the historic “We Are the World” recording (the best-selling single of all time, by the way) and fairly talented fellow, the late great Michael Jackson’s multi-platinum solo albums, Off the Wall, Bad and Thriller (with over 46 million copies sold, the best-selling album of all time). Again, genres do not apply to Q.
Enough of the babble-it’s time for some music!
And finally, an interview of the man himself:
Quincy Jones is easily one of the most gifted and influential musicians/composers/arrangers/producers of all time-and he’s not done yet! Here’s to you, Q.
The Official Website of Quincy Jones