“An ‘ego’ is usually just an over-dressed insecurity. I think you have to dream so big that you can’t get an ego, [or else] you’ll never fulfill those dreams.” — Quincy Jones
After witnessing the straitjacketed removal of his mother from his childhood home, Jones grew up fast on the streets of Chicago’s South Side, discovered music, joined Lionel Hampton’s jazz band, and got his first big break when Dinah Washington insisted he conduct and arrange her 1955 album For Those in Love.
Jones moved to Paris in 1957 to study orchestration under Nadia Boulanger. “France made me feel free as an artist and as a black man.” Returning to the States in the early 1960s, he became vice-president of Mercury Records. When Jones was 29, Frank Sinatra called.
(Sinatra, Jones, and Count Basie went to Las Vegas in 1966 for their legendary engagement at the Sands, Sinatra insisting that his collaborators stay in the same hotel they were gigging in, thereby integrating hospitality suites and casinos in the city for the first time.)
In the mid-sixties, Jones moved to Los Angeles and started a new chapter as an in-demand composer, arranger, and conductor of film scores. He started working with Michael Jackson at the end of the 1970s, and the rest is history.
If you miss the International Documentary Association presentation of Quincy—a new doc co-directed by Rashida Jones (Quincy’s daughter) and Alan Hicks, both of whom will be at the screening—you can catch it on Netflix.
Tuesday, October 16, at 7:30.
Landmark, 10850 Pico Boulevard, Rancho Park, Los Angeles.
And on Netflix.
From the top:
Quincy Jones and Sarah Vaughan in France. Photograph by Jean-Pierre Leloir.
Sinatra at The Sands album cover (1966). Image credit: Reprise.
Jones and Sinatra in the studio.
In Cold Blood, one of Jones’ many film scores. Image credit: Colgems.
Jones at the Olympia in Paris, 1960.