I read this on my phone a few hours ago. Could a break down in his mental faculties be at play here?🤪
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His comments about music are very astute. The Beatles weren't very good musicians when he met them, Hendrix was scared to play with top echelon jazz musicians, Micheal Jackson didn't share credit easily and modern pop production is unimaginative. Jones has been a major player for at least the past 50 years. You got to respect that.
+1! @geoffkait The greatness of the Beatles is in the subtleties of their performance and even more obviously in the brilliance of their compositions. Hendrix played a helluva hot axe, but Quincy was more of a producer than performer. I thought of Prince as the successor to Hendrix's brilliance of speed and ingenuity. JMHO
I read that interview yesterday and considered posting it here. Thanks for doing so.
I checked out the tune that he mentioned in the beginning (the great BIllie Jean ripoff). I think I have a good ear and a clear understanding of copyright law but I just don't hear the similarity (just as with the Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye case). I haven't checked the Giant Steps/Slonimsky claim yet. I'm not sure everything he says in the interview is true but it is absolutely the most compelling thing I've read in ages. What an amazing life he has had. Wow!
Hendrix was an R&B/blues/rock player, so the prospect of doing a session with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and Ray Brown playing jazz could have easily been intimidating.
Jones said he met the Beatles in 1963/64. His comments were that Paul was terrible bass player and Ringo couldn't play simple rhythms. Paul later became a superb bass play and Ringo is Ringo (the perfect drummer for the Beatles), but early in their recording careers as instrumentalist they were nothing special.
Jones was there, were you their with him?
I would most certainly be interested in his take on Prince. Can anyone imagine a musicican that could intimidate Prince?
Really appreciate his recognition of a lot of the latin music and rhytums
so often overlooked in our culture. This guy is a real gem in so many ways, culturally, musically and as a human being for cutting through a lot of the BS, thanks Quincy, I needed that!
I like people who are opinionated, and/or have a point of view. But The Beatles the WORST musicians in the world? Jones has obviously never heard The Shaggs ;-) . It takes advanced technique to play Jazz really well, other musics not so much. Just like in the world of automobiles, it’s a matter of "horses for courses". A 4-wheel drive Jeep is great for off-roading, but you wouldn’t want to drive one across the country. And a sports sedan is great for cruising down the Interstate, but you’re not going to go camping in one. What makes for superior musicianship in one style of music is not necessarily what does in another. What makes George Harrison’s little guitar break (commonly referred to as a solo, but in this case it’s not actually an improvised solo, but more a "song part") so incredibly musically delicious has NOTHING to do with the technique that Jazz guys are listening for in their effort to access the talent of a musician. Those Jazz "rules" are inappropriate for Pop or Rock ’n’ Roll music---they don’t apply. Quincy Jones, for all his knowledge and talent, is apparently ignorant of that fact.
Guys who came up in the world of Jazz tend to think that all music can be assessed in comparison to it. When Buddy Rich was in the hospital the last time, a nurse asked him if there was anything he couldn’t take (meaning medicines, of course). His reply was "Yeah. Country music". Pretty funny, but I’ll bet he never heard Jerry Douglas’ dobro playing.
Danny Gatton was (R.I.P.) an amazing guitarist, and the music he made got tagged with the label Redneck Jazz (and it’s the title of one of his albums). He liked guitar players who came before him from all styles---Hillbilly, Rockabilly, Rock ’n Roll, Blues, Jazz, and everything else. He was no Jazz snob, yet could play that music as well as any guitarist you can name.
I see musicians my age doing nothing but bitching about current music, how it all sucks. They don’t remember hearing "their" music (1960’s, mostly) denigrated the same way by the WWII generation, who pined for the days of the Big Bands. It comes of ignorance, partly. If you don’t understand a music---what makes it work, what principles are involved, you aren’t a person who is qualified or entitled to judge it. And besides, it isn’t being made for you, any more than that of The Beatles (or anyone else of that time) was for fans of Big Band, Jazz, or Classical music. There’s a lot of good music being made today in all genres. It can’t ALL be on the radio, or performed at half-time. The music business is going to push what it wants, so if you don’t like that music, don’t listen to the radio or watch the half-time show.
As for Quincy Jones’ opinion on ANYTHING, I couldn’t care less.
Thanks for your perspective Bdp24, but REALLY, the totality of Quincy's work corny? You protest too much. We are of the same generation and love a lot of the same stuff but I would NEVER say that Quincy Jones is anything less than a totally serious and accomplished music guy over the past 60 plus years, come on man, you can't be serious! A lot of his comments in that article are one off anecdotal stories and have to be taken in that context.
His comments about the Beatles were on their early musicianship, not their writing, at least that was my take. It takes time for good things to evolve. Or to put it another way, for cream to rise to the top. I can't tell you how many albums I have produced by this guy that I didn't even know about until I started to pay attention to such things. Sinatra at the Sands Live, check it out but if you think Sinatra is "corny" then maybe you have a point :).
I agree, not all today's music sucks, did Quincy actually say that it did? I don't think that he did. He made references to some of the current crop doing good work, Bruno Mars as a popular example. The bottom line is as it always has been, most music is mediocre at best as will be judged by the test of time.
My understanding is the Monkees were permitted to play their own instruments around the time of their third album. Originally that was not in the plans.
A lot of The Monkees stuff actually holds up pretty well as pop music IMHO. Most of their songs do not all sound the same at all. Rather diverse actually! I still enjoy them. Does that make me a bad person? Tapioca Tundra remains one of my favorite 60’s treats that I never get tired of.
I thought he sounded a little senile in this interview, but you have to appreciate his brutal honesty. I didn't much care for the Beatles earler hits like "Do you want to know a secret" and "I want to hold your hand", but once I heard them cover "Twist & Shout", I was hooked. You have to give George Martin some credit for upping their game.
You have to compare early Beatles to what was going on at the time, and as a band in the early days they had honed themselves into a kick ass live act by playing out in clubs (Hamburg). Not everybody, when given good production and opportunity, comes up with good music. The Beatles not only had natural excellent vocal abilities and an ear for actually wanting a certain blend, they had the ability to use the resources of George Martin's production to get their ideas out there and by Rubber Soul they pretty much left everyone else in the dust. Note that Martin produced other people that went nowhere. It's sort of a little too late to criticize the Beatle's impact on music, or at least the relevancy of what I consider to be timeless stuff (I listen to Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper and other Beatle stuff still…and it's astonishingly hip and clearly holds up). Regarding the Monkees, they initially weren't supposed to be much more than a funny (questionable) rip off of the Beatles, and utilized the best musicians, songwriters, and production to get the music out. That's why some of it is good, pretty much having zero to do with them personally although some musical talent did exist. Note that when a new Beatle album came out in the 60s the world sort of stopped…I remember hearing "Im Looking Through You" for the first time on my tiny car radio in a parking lot someplace…couldn't drive unit it was over, and just sat there stunned…do people get that sort of buzz from Taylor Swift or Ed Sheerhan? Maybe they do, but doubtful.
tubegroover, if you reread my post you’ll notice I thought better of what I had said about Jones’ music, and beat the 30 minute clock.
My beef with Jones’ opinion of the early Beatles musicianship is his (and a lot of other people’s) underlying assumption that a more, let’s call it accomplished, musician, will, by virtue of that fact alone, make better music than that of a less accomplished musician. That is a fallacy, just as is being a "trained" singer automatically makes one a better singer than an untrained one. Imagine if the only criteria in judging athletes in The Olympics was in the area of "difficulty of execution". Judging musicians by that criteria alone reduces the making of music to just that---an athletic endeavor.
Great comments by bdp24. I agree, except that I think the opinion of someone who has been such a force in the music INDUSTRY is relevant if only to explain some of the seemingly unexplainable. What I think is being missed here, and is obvious to me from his comments, is the reality of the corrupting power of that kind of success and wealth and of being part of the ENTERTAINMENT elite. It takes a special personality to remain grounded and not lose touch with the basics of what it is to be an artist. In most respects what happens in the upper echelons of the pop music world is no different from what happens in Hollywood; it is a breeding ground for overblown egos and self-aggrandizement. For me the most interesting thing in his comments was his focus on and criticisms of the musicianship of The Beatles, Hendrix and others. Q is an extremely talented producer/arranger without a doubt, but he was a very mediocre section trumpet player who found his niche as an orchestrator while in Basie’s band. I know and have known so many orchestrators who when hanging out with the players on a session or rehearsal like nothing more than to “talk shop” with the musicians who play whatever their own instrument was when they were getting started in the business. Deep inside some of them are frustrated instrumentalists.
As always I appreciate your insight. Looking for clarification, are you saying that you cannot critique the musicianship of others unless you yourself were a great musician yourself? Jones certainly wasn’t a trumpeter anywhere near his contemporaries, Miles, Brownie Chet, or Kenny Dorham. However he’d be able to recognize talent (or lack of) in other musicians. He had lifelong and enormous exposure to many musicians across a hugh spectrum.
As a producer and arranger he’d be analogous to a highly successful coach/manager who was but a marginal player. Bill Parcels or John Madden (NFL) or say Phil Jackson (NBA). No exceptional talent as players themselves but clearly could identify the talent level of players after watching them perform. Just as Q. Jones could easily sort out the really good musicians upon hearing them play..
**** are you saying that you cannot critique the musicianship of others unless you yourself were a great musician yourself? ****
Not at all; and I could not agree more with your comments. The motivation for Q’s criticisms of some musicians’ ability is, and I believe I left, as an open question. My point was simply that I found it interesting that he should focus so much on the technical ability of musicians while (as in the case of The Beatles) apparently not be able to recognize the generally acknowledged excellence of their music in other areas. I found this particularly interesting coming from a person who had relatively limited ability as an instrumentalist himself, and whose important contributions were in other areas as well. Any deeper digging into the psychology of it all I would leave to others to judge for themselves. Don’t get me wrong I am a very big fan of his work, from the soundtrack to the film “The Pawnbroker” to “Sinatra At The Sands” to, yes, MJ’s “Thriller”; and on and on. But I was surprised and frankly very turned off by what came across in that interview as an attitude of overblown ego and elitist attitude about art; particularly interesting coming from someone whose artistic output later in his career, while technically brilliant and on the highest level of production quality, has often been no more than fantastic ear candy (to use his own term).
Oops! The guitar break of George Harrison’s that I described as incredibly musically delicious is that in The Beatles song "Nowhere Man", on their Rubber Soul album. For fun, compare it to what James Burton (another fantastically musical guitarist) plays in the middle of Ricky Nelson’s song "Young World"!
Quincy Jones has earned the right to say pretty much whatever he freaking wants to at age 85 considering his epic career. In terms of Q and his musical abilities vs his talents as an arranger and a producer, mediocre players often become great coaches in various sports. I don’t think knowledge is constrained by a lack of technical prowess, it simply expressed itself in different ways.
From watching their tv show as a kid The Monkees have always been a guilty pleasure of mine!
Bruno Mars has not produced an original musical thought or lick yet--at least from his hits (I have never heard anything else he has done). I recognize that most pop/rock use riffs/beats/melodies from the past, but I've yet to hear him steal one and make it better than the original. But he can dance.
To excuse because of age and illness in the context of an amazing career...possibly...up to a point. But wholesale excuse without important caveats...no way! That because of an epic career one has the right to say whatever one wants...really?! It is precisely because of his stature and the importance of his career that his comments need to be scrutinized for truth. Not only where some of his comments (opinions), particularly those of a very personal nature, inappropriate for a public forum, but some of them have been and are currently being disputed; they cloud the significance of the comments that have real value. Indisputably a giant in the music industry; but, again, think “Hollywood”.
I feel, as many jazz aficionados feel, that Quincy Jones is someone they know personally, and out of the decades we have known him, he has been one of the most intelligent and articulate jazz artists out of the many. Now when he starts to say things that are flat out goofy at age 85 after a brain aneurysm, the cause of this is quite apparent to me. I view this the same as I would anyone else who has recently acquired a disability.
How can you deny something so obvious? Michael Jackson was a great performer but his work is heavily influenced (lifted) from others
Just listen to Donna Summers work at that time (also produced by Quincy). Michael Jackson lifted stuff from her and also stole from countless others including Hall and Oates “No Can Do” (baseline is the one on Billie Jean).
Let me be very clear the opinions I was talking about relate to music and his musical experiences. Certainly the Brando comment was unfortunate yes but in terms of his thoughts on the Beatles, MJ, etc those are valid. And perhaps his chain is slipping or at the very least his filter is which can certainly happen with age.
Thanks for clearing that up. Sure, his opinions are valid inasmuch as they are his, and everyone is entitled to have an opinion and “has a right” to express it no matter how inappropriate it may be under any particular circumstance. Moreover, and as you say, given his obvious and huge musical talent and huge career his opinions on music do carry a tremendous amount of weight. But, they are not necessarily valid as far as truth goes. Here’s the thing for me, and the Brando comment is just one example of many like it in that interview and elsewhere. How about a couple more?:
He trashes Donald Trump and says he hates him; that he’s an idiot...or something like that. Yet, he “used to hang out with him”. Why? He accuses MJ of stealing a song (or part of the song....or whatever) from DS. Yet, where was he through all this? The role of a producer of his stature in a project like that is huge and he has control of practically everything. If, in fact, MJ was stealing something (he wasn’t, imo) why did he allow it? I would bet that the particular rhythm or bass line in question came mostly from Q. Now, all this combined with what is for me almost unbelievable; that he cannot, or won’t, appreciate, at least, the obvious song writing skills of The Beatles. Or, to not appreciate that even if Hendrix was nervous about playing with jazz musicians that this is only one side of a “coin” that most musicians hold dear and understand very well. IOW, that most of his “baddest cats” would feel just as out of place and as fish out of water playing with a great rock band like Hendrix’s. This is stuff that goes to the very fiber of being a musician. All this, while not diminishing in any way all that I love and respect about so much of his work, throws into question the validity of some of his ”opinions” and comments and what their underlying motivations might be.