Jones, Quincy (b. 1933)

  • By Peter Blecha
  • Posted 4/19/2013
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 10354

With humble roots tracing back to Chicago's ghettos and later the segregated World War II-era housing in the navy port of Bremerton, Washington, teen trumpeter Quincy Jones rose quickly through the ranks of Seattle's 1940s jazz scene. Earning the nickname "Quick" based on his reputation as a fast study, he performed with the trail-blazing bands of Bumps Blackwell (1918-1985), befriended fellow newcomer pianist Ray Charles (1930-2004), and began honing his formidable skills as a composer/arranger while still a youth. Jones went on to tour with a jazz idol, Lionel Hampton (1908-2002), and work as arranger/conductor for other jazz icons, including Count Basie (1904-1984), Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990), and Dinah Washington (1924-1963). In the 1950s he moved to Paris to study advanced theory, and to New York where he became a record label executive. Later he relocated to Hollywood where he composed award-winning film soundtracks and produced his own hits as well as hits for Michael Jackson (1958-2009), Billy Preston, Aretha Franklin (b. 1942), Celine Dion, and others. An entrepreneur, humanitarian, philanthropist -- and the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and doctorates, scores of Grammy Awards and Academy Award nominations, and a 2013 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- Quincy Jones, a Seattle legend and a national treasure, became one of the most globally esteemed musicians in modern history.

Go West, Man!

Quincy Delight Jones Jr., the grandson of a slave, was born to skilled carpenter Quincy Jones Sr. and his wife, Sarah Wells Jones, on March 14, 1933. The family (including brother Lloyd Jones) lived on Chicago's South Side, a notoriously tough and gang-ridden area. At about age seven Jones became fascinated by a neighbor's piano and often went over to experiment on it. In time, the university-educated and beautiful Sarah, who played piano and sang at the family's church and managed the Rosenwald Apartments where they lived, developed serious psychological problems and was institutionalized in 1941.

In 1943 Jones Sr. paired up with a neighbor woman named Elvera, but the boys never bonded well with her. Jones Sr. worked for Chicago's notorious African American gang, the Jones Brothers (no relation), which was engaged in a long battle protecting its turf from the Mob. "The Jones boys had to leave town fast," Jones recalled, "and we were right behind them" ("The Quintessential Artist"). Thus came the day in 1943 when Jones Sr. abruptly picked up the kids from a local barbershop and announced that "We're leaving." Stunned, Quincy asked: "Can we get our toys?" But the heart-breaking answer was no: "We don't have time" (The Complete ..., 8).

Immediately boarding a Trailways bus, the family headed for the West Coast where wartime jobs were plentiful and the racial climate supposedly more tolerant. Yet, when that bus made a meal stop in Idaho, they saw, as Jones recalled, that it was still no paradise: "We stopped in Idaho and we got out to eat, [but] they wouldn't let us eat at the white places so we had to go find a black family [in order to get a meal]" ("The Quintessential Artist"). Upon their July 4th arrival in Bremerton, Jones Sr. scored a job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, but the tiny rental home (5453 Linden Place) they got was located in a new, segregated housing development. "They had a place way out of town called Sinclair Heights," Jones later recalled. "We had to walk up a hill forever, three miles. That's where they put all the black people" (The Complete ..., 8). Furthermore, "they also didn't put phones in the homes. You had to go to a telephone booth. They didn't want the black people to get so comfortable there after the war. They wanted them to get out" (de Barros, 101). A few weeks later, Elvera (and her three kids) arrived and the new family began settling in. By autumn, the children were attending Navy Yard City Elementary School.

The small, woodsy navy port town of Bremerton provided the Jones kids with plenty of opportunities for indoor and outdoor activities -- and mischief. The community's recreation center was the local armory, and it was the site of a caper in which Quincy and some new pals broke in and ate up the stock of lemon meringue pie. Upon being caught, he ended up in the office of Mrs. Ayres, the supervisor, where he spotted "a little spinet piano over in the corner" and after daring to plunk a key "every cell in my body and every drop of blood said, 'This is what you're gonna do the rest of your life.' So I stayed and practiced the piano all day after that" (The Complete ..., 9). Attending Robert E. Coontz Junior High School, Jones tried out a succession of instruments. "I played percussion for a while, and stayed after school forever just tinkering around with different things, the clarinets and the violins. I couldn't get into that at all. I finally found the B-flat baritone horn, Sousaphone" ("The Quintessential Artist"). Jones also picked up the trombone but ultimately settled on the trumpet, acquiring one at Kerns Music Shop in downtown Seattle.

Along the way, Jones received some encouragement from Coontz's music teacher, Harold Jeans, and even from a few musicians in the Navy Yard. He also picked up a few pointers from Eddie Lewis, an African American who worked at the Sinclair Heights Barbershop and also played some trumpet. Lewis's son, David Lewis (1938-1998), would later help forge the region's "Northwest Sound" with his rock 'n' roll group, the Dave Lewis Combo. When Jones was 12, an African American music teacher, Joseph Powe, recruited him into a boys gospel quartet, the Challengers, which made its debut in a concert at Seattle's Moore Theatre. Powe also led a swing band that thrilled Jones at its rec center gigs: "I used to get butterflies when I stood in front of that band. They had real music, written by hand, with numbers on it, and copied out, not like the stock music that's printed. That was like big-time stuff, because that's what Woody Herman had. That's what [Count] Basie had" (de Barros, 102).

Jones also began babysitting the bandleader's children so that he could sneak a peek at Powe's band charts, and he had an early epiphany: "I'd look at his Glenn Miller arranging books and it was like walking into this fantasy land, just to be able to look at those things with the trombones and how they worked. How you put the saxes and trombones and stuff together. I was just hooked on it. I must have been about thirteen. It took over my life" (de Barros, p. 102). But Jones also got an early glimpse of lowdown music-making by hanging around outside Sinclair Height's juke joint, Dick Green's Cafe, where he overheard blues bands imported from Seattle and California.

Back on the Block

In 1947 work in Bremerton dwindled and the Jones family moved across Puget Sound to Seattle and settled into a new home (410 22nd Avenue), and Jones began attending the town's most racially diverse school, Garfield High. Within mere weeks Jones was enrolled in music lessons at Frank Waldron's School of Saxophone & Trumpet, and he also joined Garfield's chorus -- and the band, led by Parker Cook, where he became a bit of a star player. Before long, Jones met another Waldron student, saxophonist Charles Taylor, who was the son of local pioneering jazz pianist Evelyn Bundy. Her Garfield Ramblers combo was one of the Northwest's first African American jazz bands during the Roaring Twenties. By autumn Taylor began recruiting members to form a band. Besides corralling Jones, he brought aboard Oscar Holden Jr. (saxophone) and his sister Grace Holden (piano), both children of Seattle jazz piano legend Oscar Holden (1886-1969). After a few rehearsals, the Charles Taylor Band debuted by playing a few lunch-break dances, Garfield's spring season talent show, and then a paying gig ($7 each!) at the "Black" YMCA (23rd Avenue and Olive Street).

Meanwhile, Jones was also soaking up music via the radio and by spinning records in the listening booths at the Sherman Clay & Co. music shop. "I was inspired by a lot of people when I was young, every band that came through town, to the theater, or the dance hall. I was at every dance, every night club, listened to every band that came through" ("The Quintessential Artist"). When Count Basie's band played Seattle's Palomar Theatre in 1947, Jones met the band's ace trumpet player, Clark Terry (b. 1920), and persuaded the man to give him some lessons in the early mornings before school began.

While playing a gig at Lake Sammamish, the Charles Taylor Band was overheard by an older fellow named Robert A. "Bumps" Blackwell. Though Blackwell ran a butcher shop (2302 E Madison Street) by day, he was best known for successfully moonlighting as a band-leader who booked his own namesake band at gigs all over town. And that alone was quite the accomplishment, given the fact that for decades Seattle had endured a largely racially segregated music scene -- one in which the white musicians' union, American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 76, controlled the most lucrative and prestigious theater, ballroom, and hotel gigs, while "Negro Musicians' Union" (AFM Local 493) players scuffled along, making do with gigs in sketchier venues on the outskirts of town and jazz dives centered along Jackson Street and, later, Madison. So, in the years leading up to those two unions merging in 1958, it was rare to see a black band playing gigs at fraternities and sororities, country clubs, tennis clubs, and downtown theaters. Blackwell, however, had a charming personality that audiences were drawn to, and he managed to break some otherwise stringently enforced rules.

The Birth of a Band

It wasn't long before Blackwell discovered that he could simultaneously book two separate bands -- and get a good cut of the income generated by both. In 1949 he persuaded the Charles Taylor Band to let him manage them, and thus his original Bumps Blackwell Band became the "Bumps Blackwell Senior Band," while Taylor and company (after joining Local 493) became the "Bumps Blackwell Junior Band." When a particularly important gig arose, Blackwell merged the two, creating the Bumps Blackwell Big Band (which sometimes featured a promising young white singer named Janet Thurlow). Under Blackwell's guidance, the young musicians gained some serious experience both onstage and in a recording studio, and his promise to help the young players quickly proved true: their very first gig under Blackwell's baton was playing opposite no less a figure than Harlem's big-time star, Cab "Hi-De-Ho" Calloway (1907-1994), at the huge Civic Auditorium (225 Mercer Street). Others followed, including memorable gigs backing the likes of Billie Holiday (1915-1959) at the Eagles Hall's grand Senator Ballroom (1416 Seventh Avenue) and opening for both Nat King Cole (1919-1965) and Louis Jordan (1908-1975).

Beyond all that experience, the Junior Band also got a taste of nightclub work when Blackwell convinced Lemuel Honeysuckle to reopen his Savoy Ballroom (2203 E Madison Street), which had been converted into a skating rink. The Junior Band became the new house band, playing regular Sunday shows there. In addition, it also played the Black and Tan (12th Avenue and Jackson Street), the Rocking Chair (1301 E Yesler Way), and the Booker T. Washington Social and Educational Club (104½ 23rd Avenue N), along with touring rockin' R&B pioneers like Pee Wee Crayton (1914-1985), Bull Moose Jackson (1919-1989), Joe Liggins (1915-1987), Lucius "Lucky" Millinder (1910-1966), and Roy Milton (1907-1983).

Blackwell was also able to book the band into good gigs ranging from the Pacific National Exposition in Vancouver, B.C., to the military base auditorium in Yakima, various county fairs, and resorts at Angle, Beaver, and Shadow lakes. One time the band played a dance for enthusiastic fans at McElroy's Ballroom in Portland, Oregon, only to be crushed when they realized that racial divides made it impossible for the band members to find dinner, a hotel room, or even a cup of coffee, anywhere downtown. Instead, they drove all night straight back home.

Meanwhile, Blackwell arranged to have the band recorded at the Electro-Mart shop (409 Fifteenth Avenue N) in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Operated by Tom (1916-2000) and Ellen (1922-2010) Ogilvy, Electro-Mart was the record-shop base for Tom Ogilvy's "Home of the Platter Concert" radio show on KOL. The couple owned an "instant disc" recorder that they had been using to cut acetate discs of touring dance orchestras at remote locations for later airing on KJR radio, but on occasion they also recorded local bands. Thus, Blackwell's Junior Band, which by then also included African American newcomers to Seattle trumpeter Floyd Standifer (1929-2007) and future jazz diva Ernestine Anderson (1928-2016), made its recording debut, an audio documentation that remains extant yet still-unreleased.

Such gigs gave Jones the chance to submit his own arrangement charts, which his bandmates would test out while gigging around. But he was new at that complicated task, and it would all be yet another learning experience. Jones "had already written charts for Bumps Blackwell's band, but when he tried them out at Friday Night dances at the 23rd Street [YMCA], they sounded square and colorless compared to the hip dissonances he'd heard on bebop band records. 'I couldn't figure out how eight horns -- four trumpets and four trombones -- could play together at the same time and not play the same note,' Jones remembered years later" (Lydon). Well, he was about to get schooled on such matters.

Brother Ray

In March 1948 a seventeen-year-old blind African American pianist named Ray "RC" Charles Robinson rolled into Seattle aboard a bus direct from Florida, and within 24 hours scored a regular gig at the "Black" Elks Club (662½ S Jackson Street). He went straight over to Local 493's office, assembled a trio from its ranks, and began to meet the town's nightlife characters and players, jamming everywhere, including the Rocking Chair and the Black and Tan. "I had my little trio at the Black and Tan club one night," Robinson later recalled, "and this fourteen-year-old cat comes up to me talking about music, about jazz, about Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. He said, 'I'm Quincy Jones and I play trumpet and I want to write music'" (Q: The Autobiography ..., 56). "He was only a couple years younger than me ... but he really wanted to write jazz. So he asked me how to do it. I showed him my methods of arranging for big bands, and he soaked it all up. [He] was hungry for all that information, eager to learn anything he could. He was a sweet, likable dude" (Charles and Ritz).

Looking back, Jones would later recall that he told Robinson about not understanding how to arrange songs for multiple horns in a band. And by way of responding, Robinson "hit a B-flat-seventh chord in root position and a C-seventh above that, and there it was, the eight note chord with the Dizzy Gillespie sound. He hit that thing, and the whole world opened up. Everything from then on made sense" (Lydon). Jones "started coming over for lessons when RC was getting up from the gig the night before. RC showed him charts he was writing on Dizzy's 'Emanon,' and when he heard Quincy's charts on gigs with Bump's band, he made suggestions that helped Quincy's writing take a big leap forward. The kid's grateful admiration got through the defenses RC kept up with most other musicians, and the two became close friends, big brother and little brother, listening to records, and going to each other's gigs. Those days in Seattle were the first in a life-long friendship" (Lydon).

Two years after making his splash in Seattle -- playing gigs with Quincy in Bumps Blackwell's band and cutting his debut record ("Confession Blues") there -- Robinson would be lured to Los Angeles, where, under his new stage name of "Ray Charles," he would soon take the world by storm and forever change popular music. And that path southward was one that Blackwell would soon follow, later resurfacing as a successful 1950s producer who launched the careers of many artists, including Sam Cooke (1931-1964) and Little Richard (b. 1932).

Lionel Hampton Band

In 1950 -- around the time that he graduated from Garfield -- Jones made a point of meeting up with one of his musical idols who happened to be in Seattle while on tour:

"Lionel Hampton's band came through Seattle then, too. That was a very significant thing in my life because … that was my dream to be with that band, more than any band. Because, I saw every band that came through: Stan Kenton, [Count] Basie, Duke [Ellington], Louis Armstrong, everybody. I was out in front hypnotized every night. I just couldn't believe it, that there is the way to be a man, to have your dignity, to be proud of what you do" ("The Quintessential Artist").

Meeting the band backstage at the Palomar Theatre, Jones passed along a chart of his new composition "Suite to the Four Winds." Later that night Hampton and some band-members showed up at the Elks Club where Jones was jamming. Hampton talked to the kid, and, quite impressed, he invited the teenager to join his band. "I hurried up and got on the bus," admitted Jones:

"I didn't want to ask my parents or anybody. I wouldn't take a chance of losing it. I just shut up like a little mouse and everybody got on the bus and it was almost ready to take off and Gladys Hampton [the bandleader's wife and business manager] got on and said, 'What's that child doing on this bus? … Lionel, get that boy off. That's a child. That's not a grown-up. Put him back in school.' And she said, 'I'm sorry, son, but, you know, you're too young. Go back to school.' I was destroyed, so she said, 'We'll talk about it later'" ("The Quintessential Artist").

Meanwhile, Jones formed his own band, the Silhouettes, which toured into Canada that summer and then he won a scholarship to Seattle University and began writing charts for the school's Workshop Band, as organized and directed by Gus Mankertz. Among the notable aces who also participated with the 20-piece ensemble were Floyd Standifer, Buddy Catlett (bass), and Tommy Adams (drums). The school's newspaper published a feature on Jones, deeming him a "Musical Prodigy" and quoting him saying: "I appreciate the good in all classes of music from boogie on up to classics. However at present I am leaning towards popular dance music" (Handley).

In 1951 Jones submitted his "Suite to the Four Winds" and won a scholarship to attend the prestigious Schillinger House (today's Berklee College of Music) and he took the train to Boston, Massachusetts. But Janet Thurlow had prompted Lionel Hampton to contact her old friend Jones when the bandleader suddenly found himself in need of a trumpeter. Offered the gig, Jones abandoned his studies and hit the road as a proud new member of the famous band for the next two years. That summer Hampton's band, replete with both Thurlow and Jones, rolled into Seattle and those two experienced the thrill of seeing their triumphant homecoming show trumpeted in the Trianon Ballroom's big display ad in The Seattle Daily Times, which blared: "COMING! THE AMAZING! LIONEL HAMPTON -- His Famous Orchestra & Stars -- Featuring two Seattleites Quincy Jones & Janet Thurlow."

The Great Wide World of Quincy Jones

Upon moving to the big city of New York, one of the very first things Jones did was go out on the town and see a show at the fabled jazz club Birdland. He also soon crossed paths with seemingly every Gotham character from bebop sax god Charlie "Bird" Parker (1920-1955) to radical human rights leader Malcolm X (1925-1965). Meanwhile, Jones's high school sweetheart, Jeri Caldwell, moved to New York. As an interracial couple they faced bureaucratic roadblocks to getting married but were soon blessed with a baby daughter, Jolie (b. 1953). Soon Jones began taking on freelance arranging and recording work for stars including: in 1954, Roy Haynes (b. 1925), James Moody (1925-2010), Paul Quinichette (1916-1983), and Manhattan's proto-rock 'n' roll group, the Treniers; and, in 1955, Cannonball Adderley (1928-1975), Betty Carter (1929-1998), Helen Merrill (b. 1930), Sonny Stitt (1924-1982), Clark Terry, and Dinah Washington.

In 1956 Jones hired on as a trumpeter and musical director, touring South America and the Middle East with Dizzy Gillespie's big band. Later that year ABC-Paramount Records offered Jones his own contract and he cut his debut album, This Is How I Feel About Jazz. That same year, Jones produced sessions for jazzers Billy Taylor and Milt Jackson and also cut his second LP, Go West, Man!, before moving east -- to Paris, France, in order to further his studies in music theory and composition with the famed tutor Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), who had previously taught Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), and Aaron Copeland (1900-1990). He simultaneously signed on as music director for the Barclay Disques record label, and he proceeded to arrange studio sessions with the likes of Charles Aznavour (b. 1924), Jacques Brel (1929-1978), and Henri Salvador (1917-2008). In 1957 Jones and Caldwell were able to formalize their marriage, and in 1958 he had the chance to work with Frank Sinatra at the Monaco Sporting Club -- a connection that would lead to great things later.

The year 1959 saw Jones cutting two albums -- The Birth of a Band and The Great Wide World of Quincy Jones -- and after having led several concert tours throughout Europe with different bands, Jones invited several of his old Seattle AFM Local 493 peers (Floyd Standifer, bassist Buddy Catlett, and pianist Patti Bown) to join him in a big band in Europe for a nine-month tour. But all that touring brought Jones serious financial problems. His frustration was palpable even years later when he told Musician magazine, "We had the best jazz band in the planet, and yet we were literally starving. That's when I discovered that there was music, and there was the music business. If I were to survive, I would have to learn the difference between the two" ("Jazz for Curious Listeners ...").

That's about when the president of Mercury Records stepped up with an offer that made Jones the musical director of the label's New York division, and he carried on working as an arranger for major jazz stars, including Count Basie, Billy Eckstine (1914-1993), Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee (1920-2002), and Sarah Vaughan. Along the way Jones also arranged sessions for big-band icons Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956), Gene Krupa (1909-1973), and Duke Ellington (1899-1974); R&B stars Big Maybelle (1924-1972) and LaVern Baker (1929-1997); pop singers Brook Benton (1931-1988) and Lena Horne (1917-2010); the momentarily reformed rocker-turned-gospel-singer, Little Richard; and even his old Seattle pal, Ray Charles, who scored with 1961's lush Genius + Soul = Jazz LP.

Quincy Jones Plays the Hip Hits

In 1960 Jones cut the I Dig Dancers LP, and in 1961 he cut four more albums including Around the World and Newport '61. His Big Band Bossa Nova LP of 1962 yielded the classic tune "Soul Bossa Nova," which was reprised as a soundtrack feature in Woody Allen's movie Take the Money and Run, and was even sampled by the Dream Warriors for their 1991 hip-hop tune, "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style." Quincy Jones Plays the Hip Hits was released in 1963, the same year that his sessions with New York teen sensation Leslie Gore (b. 1946) produced three huge pop hits ("It's My Party," "Judy's Turn to Cry," and "She's A Fool"), which were followed by "You Don't Own Me" in 1964.

That same year Jones was rewarded with a promotion to vice president at Mercury, making him the first African American to rise to an executive position within a major record company. Also in 1964 Jones reunited with Sinatra, who gave him the longstanding nickname "Q" and hired him to arrange and conduct It Might as Well Be Swing, an album that included the classic tune "Fly Me to the Moon." The duo collaborated again on the Sinatra at the Sands LP in 1966, but before then, also in 1964, Jones was invited to score a soundtrack to an upcoming film, The Pawnbroker. With that achievement under his belt, Jones decided to relocate to Hollywood, and he parted company with Mercury.

Hollywood Beckons

It was 1965 when Jones moved to Los Angeles, where he soon became involved in scoring movie soundtracks, including Mirage (1965) and Walk, Don't Run (1966). But his real breakthrough came with the score he wrote for The Slender Thread, the classic 1966 Sidney Poitier drama based on the true story of a Crisis Clinic suicide call-center incident in Seattle, where parts of the film were shot. Increasingly renowned for his silky arrangements, Jones was soon in demand for both film and television, ultimately cutting some fifty soundtracks, including In Cold Blood (1967), In the Heat of the Night (1967), and The Italian Job (1969), and themes for TV shows, including Ironside (1967) and Sanford and Son (1972).

In 1966 Jones divorced Caldwell, and in 1967 he married model Ulla Andersson, with whom he had two children, Martina Jones and Quincy Jones III. In 1968 Jones received his first Academy Award nominations: "The Eyes of Love" (from Banning) was up for Best Original Song and In Cold Blood was up for Best Original Score. In July 1969 his music went interstellar when astronaut Buzz Aldrin (b. 1930) played Jones and Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" during Apollo 11, NASA's first lunar-landing mission.

In the meantime, Jones was enticed into signing with A&M Records, and his first three solo albums each received Grammy Award nominations and/or wins. Among his most popular were Walking in Space (1969), Gula Matari (1970), and Smackwater Jack (1971). All told, Jones would go on to receive 79 Grammy nominations -- with 27 wins -- and seven Academy Award nominations.

In the early 1970s Jones briefly managed a Seattle funk/soul band, the Black on White Affair; produced Billy Preston's I Wrote a Simple Song (1971); and produced Aretha Franklin's Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) (1973). In 1974 he divorced again and married actress Peggy Lipton (b. 1946), who would have two children with him, Kidada and Rashida Jones. That same year saw Jones enduring a near-fatal cerebral aneurysm that required two medical operations, but he returned to work, and in 1975 he founded his own company, Qwest Productions, which would release many albums. Between 1976 and 1978 Jones produced three hit albums for funk pioneers the Brothers Johnson and in that latter year he also produced the soundtrack for The Wiz film starring Diana Ross (b. 1944) and Michael Jackson. In 1979 Jones delivered Jackson's breakthrough dance/pop fusion LP, Off the Wall.

The Dude

As the 1980s dawned, Jones was poised to take on many exciting new projects. His own 1981 album, The Dude, was critically acclaimed, and it yielded multiple hit singles. The following year Jones won global admiration for the state-of-the-art production values on Michael Jackson's all-time best-selling album, Thriller. In 1984 Jones produced Frank Sinatra's L.A. Is My Lady, and he scored The Color Purple in 1985. That same year he recruited many of the top names in music to participate in a fund-raising recording -- "We Are the World" -- which became the best-selling single of all-time and whose proceeds were directed toward famine relief in Ethiopia. Jackson and Jones reunited to produce the Bad LP in 1987, another smash hit album and the first ever to yield five Hot-100 singles. In 1988 Jones partnered with Warner Communications to create a new business entity, Quincy Jones Entertainment, which was slated to produce numerous movies and TV shows.

As the years went by, Jones's production skills brought him to collaborations with countless other jazz, pop, funk, and disco stars, including Patti Austin, Celine Dion, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, and Ernie Watts. His 1989 album, Back on the Block, was particularly ambitious. It fearlessly brought together an impossibly broad range of talents including jazz icons (Miles Davis, George Benson, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Sarah Vaughan, and Josef Zawinul); pop/soul stars (Jennifer Holiday, James Ingram, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, and Barry White); cutting-edge hip-hop rappers (Kool Moe Dee, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, and Melle Mel); and, once again, brother Ray Charles. Jones's big gamble paid off, with Back on the Block subsequently winning seven Grammy Awards, including "Album of the Year."

During the following year, Jones helped launch two new magazines, Vibe and SPIN, and in 1991 he forged an association with the Montreux Jazz and World Music Festival, for which he remains a co-producer. He also cut Miles Davis's final album, Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux. Meanwhile, Jones fathered a daughter, Rachel Jones, with Carol Reynolds, then lived with actress Nastassja Kinski from 1991 to 1995, during which time they had a daughter, Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones.

Halls of Fame

In addition to Jones's life in music, he was also interested in socio-political causes, including offering early (1955) support to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), and also supporting the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, and Nelson Mandela. He helped found the Institute for Black American Music, Chicago's Black Arts Festival, the Los Angeles-based Quincy Jones Workshops (which offered arts education to deprived inner-city youths), the nonprofit Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation (which works to connect youths with education, culture, music, and technology), and the We Are the Future project (which attempts to offer children in poor and destabilized areas a sense of hope).

In recent years Jones's myriad accomplishments have won him numerous awards in various countries; honorary doctorates, degrees, and other recognitions from several schools (including Princeton, Harvard, the New England Conservatory, and, in May 1990, Seattle University); and inductions into various musical and historical Halls of Fame. Meanwhile, Warner Communications produced the biographical film, Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones, in 1990, and, in 2001, he published his best-selling book, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. Around that same time, Jones visited Seattle's then-new music museum, the Experience Music Project (EMP), where the exhibit "Northwest Passage" spotlighted his Seattle roots in a gallery display that included his circa-1940s trumpet and rare photos he had offered on loan.

Jones also returned home to Seattle several other notable times. On March 12, 1983, his 50th birthday was celebrated at the grand Paramount Theatre (901 Pine Street) with performers including Ray Charles. And in March 2008, the Grand Opening week of Seattle's Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) was punctuated with a concert, held at the Paramount and featuring Ernestine Anderson (b. 1928), Carlos Santana, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Garfield High band, and others, to celebrate Jones's 75th birthday and salute his career by awarding him NAAM's first "Lifetime Achievement Award." Prior to that show, Jones was feted at a press conference at Seattle's swanky Sorrento Hotel (900 Madison Street), where he fondly recalled his years attending Garfield. Later that year, on June 14th, Jones delivered the University of Washington's 133rd commencement keynote speech and received an honorary degree. On September 26, 2008, when Garfield High dedicated its new Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center, Jones was in attendance.

In October 2008 Quincy Jones's next book, The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey & Passions -- Photos, Letters, Memories & More from Q's Personal Collection, was published, and 2010 saw the release of his album Q Soul Bossa Nostra. On April 18, 2013, Jones attended the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame awards show in Los Angeles, where he was honored with the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement and inducted into the Hall of Fame.


Sources:

Peter Blecha interviews with Tom and Ellen Ogilvy, 1983, Floyd Standifer, 1984, Frank Roberts, 1998, Billy Tolles, 1993, Johnny Kerns, 2001, Gordy Lockhard, 2008, recordings and/or notes in possession of Peter Blecha, Seattle, Washington; "The Quintessential Artist," Academy of Achievement website accessed March 15, 2013 (http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/jon0int-1); Nelson George, Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones (New York: Warner Books, 1990), 35; Quincy Jones, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (New York: Harlem Moon/Broadway Books, 2002); Quincy Jones, The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey & Passions (San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions, 2008); Leo Handley, "Quincy Jones: Musical Prodigy Studies at Seattle University," undated Seattle University newspaper clipping, in The Complete Quincy Jones, above, 10; John Tuohy and Ed Becker, "The Legend of Tommy Roe," Rick Porrello's American Mafia website accessed March 15, 2013 (http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_53.html); Ray Charles and David Ritz, Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story (New York: Warner Books, 1979), 115; Michael Lydon, Ray Charles: Man and Music, uncorrected proof (New York: Riverhead Books, 1999), 57; Paul de Barros, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993), 85, 101-102; "Seattle U. Jazz Band Sets Concerts," The Seattle Daily Times, April 27, 1950, p. 25; "COMING!" Trianon display ad, The Seattle Daily Times, August 30, 1951, p. 25; "About," Quincy Jones website accessed March 8, 2013 (http://www.quincyjones.com/about/); "Jazz for Curious Listeners: The Jazz World of Quincy Jones," National Jazz Museum in Harlem website accessed March 14, 2013 (http://www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org/archive.php?id=477); Mark Tutten, "Quincy Jones: The Beat Goes On," CNN website accessed March 15, 2013 (http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/11/04/quincy.biog/index.html); Paul de Barros, "Concert Mark's Quincy Jones' 75th birthday," The Seattle Times, March 17, 2008 (http://seattletimes.com/); "Quincy Jones," Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website accessed April 19, 2013 (http://rockhall.com/inductees/quincy-jones/).
Note: This essay was updated on March 16, 2016.


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