A Conversation with Quincy Jones

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Day one of the Club TCM discussions has wrapped up on a high note with a great conversation between legendary producer, composer, conductor and musician Quincy Jones, being interviewed by film critic Leonard Maltin. Yet another full house in Club TCM with an audience that was as engaged and enthralled by Jones as you can imagine. Below are a few highlights:

  • “Each culture has its food, its music, and its language that keeps the culture together. That’s why I’m such a hard bargain driver for America to have a minister of culture. We’re the only country in the world that doesn’t have a minister of culture. The most popular copied music in the world is jazz and blues and we don’t have a minister of culture. It’s’ insane, it really is. And I see it take an effect on the kids. You know, because they don’t know who they are. They don’t know what it is.”
  • “Everywhere you travel, you hear American music. You better believe it, and I always did. In ’53 I couldn’t believe it, in Sweden and all those places, it’s unbelievable.  Indonesia, and everything it’s just – Korea, feels like the Southside of Chicago, man. It does!”
  • “I ask rappers now, in your mind when did rap start? I’m gonna say around 1971, with the black panthers. I say man, come on, I was rapping in Chicago when I was five years old in 1939! It’s important to know, if you know where you come from it’s a better way to get where you’re going. It’s very important.”
  • “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, because you can’t anyway. Half of the hip hop slang came from jazz. The first time I went to New York from Seattle at 18, and Duke Elliot [said] ‘Young blood, can I stash my axe in your crib for a few ticks so I can go cop some ZZZs?’ Can I leave my horn here while I go get some sleep.”
  • “Luck is the dust that’s over the collision between opportunity and preparation. That’s what luck is – but you’d better be prepared. When Sinatra called me, I was ready. I was ready, man. There’s nothing that would destroy me more than getting a great opportunity and not being prepared to handle it. He used to test me, too.”
  • (Speaking about Sinatra at the Sands) Leonard Maltin: “ You got to stand there every night and conduct the Count Basie Band playing for Frank Sinatra. What was that like?” Quincy Jones: “It was like going to heaven every night, it really was man. Frank too, he said that was one of the best times he ever had. At that time I didn’t realize Vegas was so racist man. It was ’64, I was so shocked you know.”
  • “At that time Sammy, Basie, myself, and Lena, Belafonte, all those people they had to eat in the kitchen. They couldn’t even go in the casino – in ’64! I was shocked, you know. Frank cleaned it up real quick. He was amazing to work for.”
  • “This man (Sinatra), like Miles Davis too, was more bark then bite, you know. He loved to get you scared and upset – Miles was the king of that, you know. It was all bark.”