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Quincy Jones - Quincy Jones Plays Hip Hits
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Mercury Records SR 60799

Comin' Home Baby
Gravy Waltz
Desafinado
Exodus
Cast Your Fate to the Wind
A Taste of Honey

Back at the Chicken Shack
Jive Samba
Take Five
Walk on the Wild Side
Watermelon Man
Bossa Nova U.S.A.


It is unlikely that Quincy Jones will ever become eligible for membership in that
eccentric, tortuously bleating, anarchical in-group often known as the avant garde of
jazz. Jones, a fearless soul who has never been known to tremble in public, will,
undoubtedly, continue to be among the adventurous chieftans of the sartorial elite in
the music world. His wardrobe, a work of continental theme and personal variations,
has been the basis for envy at innumerable gatherings of assorted fashion-conscious
clans. However, the shrewd gambler would be advised not to bet on the probability of
Jones composing a symphony based on the chord changes of I'll Remember April or
a chamber work for jazz trio, hyena in heat and castrato. Jones' achievements are
matters of subtle progress, not remnants from Shock Theater. He is, in the best sense
of the term, a mainstream figure: a composer-arranger-leader-performer who is
constantly aware of the past in confronting the present and anticipating the future. His
work is as uniquely his own as are the clothes he wears.

The fact that he avoids faddistic free-form gyrations does not at all inhibit Jones. His
music is modern. His growth, as an individual composer, is apparent. His approach, to
spice tradition with large servings of contemporary insight, constantly finds him
delving into more aspects of music.

Jones reached the age of 30 a month before this collection of sounds was assembled
in April, 1963. Into that relatively brief lifetime he has packed a wealth of experience.
Since he began studying trumpet in 1947 (oddly enough, his first teacher, Clark Terry,
is on this date), he has furthered his formal training (including a stint at Schillinger
House in Boston) and has worked with, and for the bands of Lionel Hampton, Dizzy
Gillespie, Count Basie and others. He served a two year tour of duty with Hampton.
He was music director, arranger and trumpeter with the Gillespie big band that rocked
the Near East in May, 1956. His compositions have enlivened the Basie book. He has
spent several years in Europe; his name is the password to friendship and aid in a
flock of European countries. In 1959, he was music director for the Broadway
production of Harold Arlen's blues opera, Free and Easy; he toured Europe with the
band he assembled for that show and has since, fronted his own band on many
occasions.

Today, he is a busy man, prevented from achieving victories on many fronts only by
the pressure of time. Fortified by the best of vitamin preparations and inspired by the
enticements of an overwhelming number of offers, he can only do so much. Hardly
an organization man, he funbles with administrative details, relegating them to a dusty
corner of his concern. He fights the creative fight daily, groping for the choice that
will be right for him in a sea of musical opportunities. Occasionally, he compromises;
occasionally, he has regrets. His daily life is a whirling, demanding scene, which
makes his accomplishments even more remarkable. Ultimately, he will settle down; he
will plot his course with pointed devotion. When he does, the impact will be felt
throughout American music, whether Jones makes the breakthrough in the form of a
notable Broadway musical, a Hollywood film score or as a relaxed television actor
(he's exploring that field as this is written, by playing a dramatic role in a TV show
being taped by Americans in the Far East). He is not an actor, and knows it, but his
inherent taste— a taste revealed regularly in his music—will serve him well on any
stage.

In this album, one of his most notable skills—arranging and animating the work of
other composers—is showcased. He has taken tunes closely identified with
well-known performers, including Dave Brubeck, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Smith,
Martin Denny, Vince Guaraldi, Steve Alien (members of Alien's TV audience need no
introduction to Gravy Waltz), Mongo Santamaria, Mel Torme, Stan Getz and Charlie
Byrd (their recording of Desafinado helped spark the Bossa Nova craze) and both
jazzman Eddie Harris and pianists Ferrante and Teicher, who inspired a march to
buy recordings of the Exodus theme.

Using bands of varying size, Jones has brought new identities to the familiar
melodies. Aiding him appreciably were a number of outstanding jazz soloists.
Among them: trumpeters Joe Newman and Clark Terry, saxists Zoot Sims and Phil
Woods, trombonist Quentin Jackson, pianist-organist Bobby Scott and guitarist Jim
Hall.

What results is an unpretentious, witty, and consistently appealing session. Jones'
knowledge of the basics of jazz, particularly his sense of the power of the blues,
is evident throughout. However, he does not depend on the earthiness he can
inject into such material. A great deal "happens" on Jones' way through any tune.

It is his impressive imagination that makes this set more than merely listenable. And
it is another sign that Jones is moving forward without sacrificing his credentials.
He belongs to jazz, whatever the nature of his future attainments, and jazz can be
grateful for his presence.

Don Gold














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