I read this excellent and frank interview with Quincy Jones, which has startled a few. Some questioned the veracity of some of this answers but it all rings true to me. A long time Quincy fan, since I heard his beautiful arrangements on Paul Simon’s 1973 album ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon’ – I particularly love ‘American Tune’ – he has by now become one of music’s unabashed greats.
Is there innovation happening in modern pop music?
Hell no. It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no fucking songs. The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer. If you don’t have a great song, it doesn’t matter what else you put around it.
Still discoveries proliferate. In 2016 the BBC staged a prom concert as a tribute to the man, and that is where I chanced upon Jacob Collier, a beautiful talent who Quincy picked up early and produced.
The first time I heard this, the hairs on my neck went up, and my eyes filled with tears. Not for sadness, but for beauty. I couldn’t even begin to grasp what the music was doing, how it was formed, as its immediate effect was overwhelming. If you aren’t particularly romantic, or a lover of jazz and soul, it may leave you cold. But if you do appreciate jazz, soul, and great musical talent, and you don’t yet know this song, ‘In The Real Early Morning’, prepare to be astounded.