Some people have all the luck, all the talent and we are in awe of their creative majesty. Quincy Jones is such a man. His productions are big, sultry, sensual and funky, uplifting, sweet and moving. He imbues his superior musical energy like magic upon everything he touches.
Quincy has worked with at least dozen of my favourite artists, including Count Basie, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Chaka Khan, Paul Simon, and Prince.
Best known for producing Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the African famine fundraiser We Are The World his modus operandum seems to be working with great joy, famously putting a sign on the studio entrance: “Check your ego at the door”.
As well as producing one of the biggest albums of all time, he is a direct and much-sampled inspiration for Trip-Hop, that downtempo, chilled moody genre which emerged in the 1990s, which draws on a far more subtle and intimate musicality than his later Hollywood successes.
I loved Les Nuits by Nightmares on Wax since I first heard its spine-tingling intro and it didn’t take me too long to trace the roots back to Quincy. Listen to the original and then to the music which is inspired by it.
If I could take one thing from Quincy and transplant it into myself, it would be his string arrangements. American Tune by Paul Simon has a haunting, classical chord progression which is elevated by Quincy’s understated strings, turning his muse on the moral collapse of his nation into something far more meaningful than just a protest song.