Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Right On Q: Quincy Jones 85

As promised, I'm ready to celebrate the 85th birthday of a living legend today.
I have tributed him before but 85 is a milestone few of us live to tread, so I have whipped up quite the forceful homage for the occasion.
He's been doing the things he does, and stuff like that, for 60+ years in the thick of keeping music in our heads.
Just his film and television scoring work alone has left an indelible imprint upon the sounds of tens of millions of lives.
Responsible for soundtracks ranging from Sidney Poitier to Sanford & Son, he has had our ears covered from Roots to branches for decades upon decades. Of course, I would never dare place a pristine, Easter Egg vinyl rip of one of his best (never issued on CD somehow) scores into the cloud for you to find it, like a hidden diamond, in the folder with the main share. Nope, not me. Never happen.
Always available with a loquacious and stimulating quote for an interview, he caused quite a stir a few weeks ago, voicing several jawdropping -- but in no way entirely untrue -- opinions about the music of our lifetimes.
He gets to do that, having established himself before most of us were born as a central force in that continuum, through which so much of the last six decades of song and sound run.
I didn't even mention his productions... but if I did he'd be revealed as the ultimate architect, in the chair at the desk for some of the most beloved, exquisite records that will ever be made by anyone, if Humanity lasts to the year 30018.
Michael Jackson's Off the Wall & Thriller? Check. We Are the World? Check. It's My Party, And I'll Cry If I Want To? He can, for he was a driving force in that song's creation, as well as who knows how many others that inhabit the fabric of our lives like finely spun silk.
In fact, there probably isn't a single moment in our world, at any time of the day or night, where some classic track isn't playing somewhere which didn't involve, in some integral way, the creative genius of Quincy Jones.
So Q was born this very day way back in 1933, right? As I often do, I was going through my archives wondering what to share to commemorate the occasion, when I stumbled upon this little Hot Rock.
Apparently this is the rarest, most undercirculated bootleg of all time, because I can find hide nor hair of it on the web, save for one mention in a microfilmed copy of an old Billboard magazine from the week after it aired. This helped me to narrow down the date of this HOLY SHIT IT'S NOT TO BE BELIEVED performance and live broadcast.
Anyway I think one reason that this 47 minutes and 40 seconds of unadulterated groove went so undercaptured by the intrepid tapers of the Greater Los Angeles area on the SoCal summer night in '75 in question may have been because it aired in the middle of the night... on a weeknight. Anyway we should not lament its lack of ubiquity in the archivoverse -- I'm more lamenting the loss, over the last four decades, of radio programming of this stratospheric a quality in the wee hours of a Thursday morning -- because an oldschool taper named Allen Tarzwell managed to align his reel-to-reel deck with the airwaves in just the proper orientation (more or less) that night, and thankfully he captured what was aired magnificently.
Quincy Jones Band
"Midnight Hour Music"
Clover Studios
Hollywood, California
likely 8.7.1975

01 Tryin' to Find Out About You
02 Soul Saga (Song of the Buffalo Soldier)
03 Listen (What It Is)
04 Theme from "Ironside"
05 If I Ever Lose This Heaven
06 Everything Must Change
07 Manteca
08 Is It Love that We're Missing?
09 Boogie Joe, the Grinder

Total time: 47:40

Quincy Jones - keyboards and vocals
Louis Johnson - bass and vocals
George Johnson - guitar and vocals

rest of ensemble unknown, likely including some permutation of:
Harvey Mason - drums
Wah Wah Watson - guitar
Frank Rosolino - trumpet
Bill Lamb - trumpet
Chuck Findley - trumpet and flugelhorn
Sahib Shihab - saxophones
Ernie Krivda - saxophones
George Bohanon - trombone
Jerome Richardson - flute and saxophones
Ralph MacDonald - percussion
Paulette McWilliams - vocals
Aura Urziceanu - vocals
Leon Ware - vocals and keyboards
Carolyn Willis - vocals
Myrna Matthews - vocals
Jesse Kirkland - vocals

1st gen reel of the original KWST-FM broadcast, remastered for maximum funkified effect by EN
As if this tape wasn't insane enough, history instructs us that this is indeed the era when Q thrust The Brothers Johnson upon our unsuspecting (and theretofore underfunkified, it seems) world, and it has them both on full display to make jaws meet floors across late night Los Angeles that hot August night, fasho.  What Louis Johnson does here must have had bass players throwing their Fenders off balconies and high buildings in the steamy evening... Holy Thunderthumbs, friends. I scoured the internet for historical records of bass-guitar-related deaths in 1975, but thankfully could find no stories of pedestrians being impaled by flung and falling Fenders. Just the Larry-Graham-on-Blade-Runner universe to which LJ translocates the theme from "Ironside" is enough to make Jaco Pastorius play 64th notes from beyond the grave, omg. There are instances when what he's playing is so precise and percussive, he renders the drummer almost superfluous. And the drummer, from what I can discern, is Harvey Mason for Chrissakes.
As per the occasionally Seven Tease, laid-back late-night radio dodginess of the sonics, I worked on this blast of badassedness extensively to liberate the high end as best I could, without applying too much faerie dust alteration. I hope you find it in shape to induce involuntary pelvic swiveling on command. It sure seems to work for me.
I'll be back soon with further fabulousness for your foray, but you better get this tape if you know what's good for your Funk, I will tell you what. And as you do, remember that this fallen, dystopically caricatural world isn't all Cult 45's Circus Of Filth; there's people like Quincy Jones -- 85 today and still an implacably galactic musical force -- to balance out the blather and the blight of the brazen and the bombe ├ęclat.--J.