*Quincy Jones! What else can you say? He has attained a level of artistic, financial and diplomatic notoriety that few entertainers have ever, nor will ever, achieved.
Do we need to run off a short list of some of his prior collaborators? Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder? You still don’t know? Do you really need a slap? Since Q, aka the Dude, is a non-violent type of brother then we’ll digress and let the living legend tell his own tale.
He recently spoke with our Lee Bailey about “Q: Soul Bossa Nostra.” Originally slated for a June release, the Interscope Records offering is now finally out. Jones and Lee are old salts with a bit of history and when they get together things tend to sometimes get a little off track.
“I’m 77, I feel 25, I’ve been traveling all over the world the last 9 months and 3 weeks,” Jones told EURweb.com “Queen Margaret’s birthday in Jordan, and Denver and Vegas and I’m just enjoying life. Did Oprah on Thursday for the 25th Anniversary of ‘The Color Purple.'”
We are aware of Jones’ reputation as a jet setter, but we’re also hip to his reputation as a bit of an activist and social critic as well. We tried asking Mr. Jones his opinion of the recent take over of the House by Republicans, but Q gave us much more than we had bargained for. He began to critique the American political elite in general, the ultra conservatives in particular.
“I go in the back window, I don’t go in the front door,” he joked. “I was friends for 8 years with the Clintons, I knew the Kennedys like my own family. I played for Eisenhower in 1962 when I was 19. I’ve seen how they roll.”
“The divisiveness is what it’s all about,” said Jones of the nation’s current political environment. “This country is totally splintered under the guise of democracy, but that’s bullshit. Most people look at it that way, how could you not? Sarah Palin and Tea Partiers and all this other shit going on? It’s unbelievable, man. It’s like the American Revolution with militias up in Michigan and stuff. This hasn’t happened in America in a very long time.”
Some may argue otherwise, but American society is changing and whenever there is change there are always those that fight against it. Jones told EURweb.com that he is uniquely sensitive to the world’s view of the United States, and how the average US citizen views the world.
“I travel more than anybody on this planet, I don’t care who the hell it is, and we’re viewed on this planet as the biggest isolationists in the world,” he explained. “12 percent of Americans have passports, only 6 percent use them, we don’t know shit about anybody and most of the time don’t care. It bothers me, man. I’ve been traveling 57 years. Been through the Middle East starting in Abu Dabi, Iran in Tehran, Damascus, Beruit, I’ve been everywhere. You’ve got to go to know is my only point. I’m not trying to sit up here and sound like Rush Limbaugh but you’ve got to go know. If you don’t have access to the diagnosis then you cannot write a prescription. I’ve been everywhere, including Iraq in 2003 and I was there 50 years ago.”
In addition to Americans having a muted ignorance of the cultures of others, that same ignorance is internalized, according to Jones.
“It just hurts me because everywhere I go in the world, from Shanghai to Monte Carlo, our music is all over the world and yet we do not have a minister of culture and American kids can’t tell you shit about their own music,” said Jones in a clearly agitated tone. “But they can tell you about their favorite band though, but I’m talking about the culture itself like the Germans and the Russians know about theirs. But they know about our roots too, going all the way back to Louis Armstrong. I’m just fed up by the way (our music) has been treated, but I know why it’s been treated like that. It just bothers me.”
Life is all about growth, as any dime store guru can tell you. Q says the best way for us to grow is to learn as much as we can from others, and to ingest as much as we can.
“The best advice I ever got when I was growing up was listen to the music people listen to, eat what they eat and learn at least 30 words in every language,” said Jones. “Not just black cultures, but everybody else’s cultures. Just trying to understand their culture and not to force your culture on them. You’ll feel at home man. You really do. Learn the music they (other countries) listen to, like Brazil. They can out party anyplace in this world and they’re completely influenced by African culture.”
After going off on a bit of a tangent Q finally came back around to answer the original question, sort of. We asked how he felt the Republican take over the House would affect his ongoing to mission of cultural education for American children.
“I don’t think they even think about culture,” said Jones of neocons. “If you don’t know where you’re coming from you don’t know where you’re going. China has the smartest kids in the world, I’ve been there 13, 14 times. I just wonder where we went wrong. These clowns are not going to help us. Sarah Palin is not going to help us.”
Finally we got to down to business with the legendary one. Here, he tells our Lee Bailey about the new album (“Q: Soul Bossa Nostra”) dedicated to him and how it came about.
“Bossa Nova means new wave and we saw it born, and jazz influenced it a lot,” he explained. “We did an album called ‘Big Band Bossa Nova’ when we got back from Brazil. I wrote it in 20 minutes and it just won’t go away. Mike Meyers did it on all three Austin Powers movies, Ludacris did it with ‘Number One Spot’ and performed it on the VMAs. Six years ago Timbaland came to me and talked about doing an album tribute to me, I’m not going to say no, you know? They’ve been using my samples, Tupac’s greatest hit was a sample of mine. We used to get 36 sample requests a week. And it was beautiful, more surprising people came through. We’ve got everybody from Snoop Dogg to Amy Winehouse.”
Listen to Ludacris and Naturally 7’s Soul Bossa Nostra:
Jones told EURweb.com he loves the current role of Godfather that he plays to younger performers. In a way he’s carrying on a tradition as old as black music in the United States.
“Here’s something that you did in ’62 and here’s another generation doing their version of it. I like that because it mixes up the generations and the cultures and it’s part of how jazz grew,” he explains. “When young singers come up to me and they say ‘Quincy, what would you advise?’ I say put your ten favorite singers on one CD and copy every note they sing. You won’t sound like them, you will have your own sound and you get a chance to walk in the shoes of giants. I’ve been in this since I was 13 years old. All of the greats like Basie, Ray Charles, we came up together, you know? We took care of each other, they took care of me and taught me. It helps you grow as a musician.”
The CD was slated to come out in May or June of this year, as previously reported here and by other outlets. We asked Jones why the long delay and instead of getting a quick answer we got our favorite kind of answer, one packed with information. It appears as though the fear of Internet piracy played a large role in the delay.
“You gotta look at the fact that you’re maybe looking at the last 10 or 12 months of record companies,” Jones told our Lee Bailey. “We’re really in trouble with piracy. It’s a serious dilemma. I was on with Alan Kay the other day. He created Mac 1, Mac 2, overlapping windows, icons. He created all that, and he was of the godfathers of the Internet. He told me about all this 30 years ago and I thought he was smoking Kool-Aid or something. Now, everywhere you go, it’s 2 cell phones and a laptop and that’s everywhere on the planet. That’s the information age really coming full circle, you know. Piracy is taking place on 90 to 95 percent of the whole planet.”
It looks like this project is going to be a hot one. Usher, Ludacris, John Legend, Talib Kweli, Mary J. Blige, Akon, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Robin Thicke, Wyclef Jean, Q-Tip, Three 6 Mafia, David Banner, BeBe Winans, Scott Storch, Mervyn Warren and Jermaine Dupri have each selected a song from Jones’ six decades of songs to make their own. We can see why piracy was a fear.
“Q: Soul Bossa Nostra” is available in stores and online outlets now.
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