September 13, 2018 

By Lapacazo Sandoval 

Contributing Writer 


The definition of the word, legend,  that you find inside a dictionary describes “an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field. ‘The man was a living legend’”—that definition does not even close to describing the 85 years-young [old], Quincy Jones. He is without a single doubt one of the influential people in the history of recorded music. 


In the last six decades, you will find his (aka “Q”) musical fingerprints somewhere on the soundtrack of our lives.  Hes been in the cut-throat music world for 60 years, having worked with and befriended other giants—legends starting with Ray Charles whom he met, as a teenager and both men shared a strong backbone and unwavering confidence that never depended on being accepted by the white establishment.  Along the way, Jones has written major chart-toppers, arranged music for Frank Sinatra, whom he called a friend, produced Michael Jacksons epic album “Thriller,” and launched the careers of Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Whoopi Goldberg, and thats just naming a few 


A proud Black man, a groovy cat, his name is forever linked with the very best of black culture, music, and giving back to those less fortunate.


In the new documentary “Quincy” directed by Alan Hicks and co-directed by Quincys daughter, actress/filmmaker Rashida Jones together these directors take us into his fascinating world. 


Shot over the last five years, together, the filmmakers create a stirring portrait of a living legend.


Whats brilliant is that we learn about Jonesearly life, and what a life  He grew up on the South Side of Chicago in 1933 when lynching Black people was so common that, while later on tour in Texas, a dummy of a Black person hanging in front of a Texas church said it all. His mother suffered from mental illness, a diagnosed schizophrenic and he remembers her being taken away in a straitjacket. This early loss of having a mother has impacted his entire life. Drawn to music early, he met Ray Charles when Jones was 14 years old, and Charles was 16-years,


and they became as tight as brothers. 


Racism in America was ugly in the 30's so when the opportunity arose to travel to Europe, at 18 years old, with the legendary bandleader Lionel Hampton, Jones jumped at the opportunity.  Like so many Black people before and after him, he blossomed while living in Paris, in 1957, studying classical music with “the” Nadia Boulanger, who had taught Igor Stravinsky.  There Jones finally felt alive saying that “France made me feel free as an artist and as a black man.”


Jones credits Dinah Washington for giving him is his first big break where she insisted that her label —Mercury Records—hire him to arrange her album which later,  became a hit.  To his surprise, but mostly to get out of debt that he incurred from a failed European tour, he took a “real job” as a music executive at the label. There he discovered Lesley Gore, then a 16-year-old kid from New Jersey with a voice. And in 1963 singing “Its My Party” this song became Quincys first hit single, and with Gore, they had more.  A year later the call from the “Chairman of the Board” aka Frank Sinatra came and his life would never be the same.


His period with Sinatra is fascinating and Jones recalls that like he had with Ray Charles, the two men of music never had a paper contract, just their word solidified by a firm handshake.  Together they made many hits including the classic “Fly Me To The Moon” which was played during the space flight of Apollo 11.


Time waits for no man and in the 1970s, he was officially a super-producer and proven hitmaker and the man everyone wanted to work within music. In 1978 Jones wrote the music for “The Wiz” and got a good look at a very young Michael Jackson. Game recognizes game and he talked Jackson into making his first solo record, Off The Wall. Their collaboration continued to take them to even more dizzying heights and in 1982 they made the album Thriller—the most commercially successful album ever made.


Jonesillness is present in the documentary and his zeal for life is evident with each brush with death.


The documentary interweaves the story with voice-over–driven narration mostly provided by Jones himself, along with his ex-wives Jeri Caldwell and Peggy Lipton. The list of luminaries that chime in includes Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Tom Hanks, Oprah, Bono, Kendrick Lamar, Will Smith, and  Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  What also makes the film so interesting are the vintage photographs and clips of Jones with Ray Charles, Nelson Mandela, and Frank Sinatra.   As “Quincy” comes to the third act, hes facing his health scares, head on, traveling the world and consuming—life.


Quincy Jones, the legend is a composer/film and television producer/performer/magazine founder— a living legend.


“Quincy” on Netflix September 21.

Category: Arts & Culture