Welcome to the new series by William Price King on the life and music of Quincy Jones.
Before we take a look at his life and music perhaps I could just briefly cover some of his lifetime achievements. This extraordinary man has not just been awarded the accolades heaped upon him by the music industry but has given back to the business, its artists and to those outside of music who have needed his help.
Despite being centre stage as a performer, Quincy Jones has excelled in most of the areas of popular music for over 65 years. He is a record producer, conductor, arranger, composer, musician, television producer, film producer, instrumentalist, magazine founder, entertainment company executive, children’s activist and humanitarian
He has received 79 Grammy nominations and 27 Grammy Awards. He was nominated for 7 Oscar Academy awards and he received The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994. He has composed sound tracks for movies from the early 60s including for The Slender Thread, In The Heat of the Night, MacKenna’s Gold, The Italian Job and They Call Me Mr. Tibbs.
Here is the theme song from the soundtrack of The Colour Purple in 1985, although his own album is available here is the version by Itzhak Perlman on his album Perlman. You can buy the original soundtrack at the link at the end of the post.
Quincy has collaborated with the best in the business including Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and Celine Dion. He has also invested time and funding to provide young musicians the opportunity to develop their own careers through education and community outreach.
In 2008, Quincy Jones was inducted into the California Hall of Fame and in 2009 made a Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Later that year he was honoured with a Clinton Global Citizen award for Leadership in Philanthropy. In 2013 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and honoured in 1014 by the French by being made Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and is the first musician also be made Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur.
Away from music he has devoted much of his life to social change and philanthropy.
In May 2000 the Quincy Jones Professorship of African American Music was established at Harvard University in Massachusetts with a grant of $3 million from Time Warner. In January 2001 he received the first Ted Arison Award from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, named for the man who created the organization.
He is founder of the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation which is a non-profit organisation that has built more than 100 homes in South Africa with an aim to connecting young people with technology, education, culture and music. In 2004 he helped launch the We Are the Future project, which gives children in poor and conflict-ridden areas a chance to live their childhoods and develop with a sense of hope.
In 2001, Jones became an honorary member of the board of directors of The Jazz Foundation of America. He has worked with The Jazz Foundation to save the homes and the lives of America’s elderly jazz and blues musicians, including those who survived Hurricane Katrina.
Quincy Jones is saluted at the 2001 Kennedy Center Honors by Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin and James Ingram. However, the star of the performance is the legendary Ray Charles who sings the old World War I song “My Buddy” – and makes it his own tribute to Quincy. Thanks to Henry B Walthall for uploading this video to Youtube.
Jones and his friend John Sie, founder of Liberty Starz, worked together to create the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.
In this first post I just want to touch on his early life as that is already well documented in Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones which won a Grammy in the best spoken word album category.
You can buy his autobiography and his other books from his author’s site on Amazon.
Quincy’s early influences.
Born in 1933 on the South Side of Chicago as Quincy Delight Jones Jnr. to Sarah and Quincy Delight Jones snr, he was to get an early introduction to music by his mother who sang religious songs. He was also lucky enough to be able to hear a neighbour Lucy Jackson playing her stride piano (jazz piano style that was developed in the large cities of the East Coast, mainly New York, during the 1920s and 1930s) through the walls of their adjoining houses. Listening to the music was not enough and so Quincy would head next door and began his musical career in earnest.
Unfortunately his mother Sarah suffered a breakdown when Quincy and his brother were very young and she was institutionalised. His father eventually remarried to Elvera who had three children with another three arriving in following years after moving to the Northwest.
Quincy attended Garfield High School in Seattle and developed his early love of music by studying the trumpet and music composition and arranging. He met a new classmate, Charles Taylor whose mother was Evelyn Bundy, one of Seattle’s first jazz-band leaders. This opened up doors for Quincy and at fourteen, he and Charles were playing in the National Reserve Band.
This was also the age when he met Ray Charles who was then himself only 16 years old. After watching Ray perform, Quincy introduced himself and considers him to be an early inspiration for his own career. Combined with a strong and empowering family environment and an inherited work ethic from his father, Quincy was now set on his future in music.
A great track from the Quincy Jones album “Back on the Block” released in 1989. Performed by Ray Charles and Chaka Khan. I’ll Be Good To You.
At eighteen Quincy won a scholarship to Seattle University along with another star in the making, Clint Eastwood. After the first semester however, Quincy transferred to the Berklee College of Music in Boston on another scholarship. The course work was tough and Quincy was studying 10 subjects related to performing, arranging and composing. To cover his expenses he played at what he terms ‘a real dive’ locally called Izzy Ort’s Bar & Grille where he was influenced by alto player Bunny Campbell and pianist and arranger Preston Sandiford.
His studies came to an end when he was offered the practical experience of touring as a trumpeter with the legendary Lionel Hampton. Lionel was a jazz pianist, percussionist, actor and bandleader and had worked with the best including Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker. This was a great start to Quincy’s professional career and it also offered him the opportunity to demonstrate his talent for arranging songs. This lead to him moving to New York where he worked freelance arranging songs for artists such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn and his old and now close friend Ray Charles.
Frank Sinatra sings I Only Have Eyes For You with the Count Basie Orchestra directed by Quincy Jones. Count Basie on the piano. Uploaded by VicoKrav
Buy Quincy Jones Music.
The Soundtrack The Colour Purple
Sources and information on tours and news for Quincy Jones.
About William Price King
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His debut jazz album is called ‘Home,’ a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.
William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area. His album ‘Home’ is available to download and he is currently working on his new album available later in 2015.
Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
You can find the other series including Nat King Cole, Mel Torme, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Sir George Shearing in this directory.
We both would be very appreciative if you could leave a comment and share this new series on social media – Twitter and FB in particular. Many thanks Sally and William.