By Gregory Crofton
Quincy Jones, or “Q” as his friends know him, has touched more people with his work than most realize.
This producer and arranger of all types of music and shows — from Bebop to Hip Hop to soundtracks and even the production of film and television — has lived an incredibly impactful life because of a knack for getting things done, and doing them spectacularly well.
Rashida Jones’ new documentary on the brilliant life of her father does plenty of fawning over its subject. But as you watch it, you’ll start to think like him and you’ll soon say to yourself, ‘Goddamnit man, Quincy does deserve the praise.’
“Thank, you baby,” is something Quincy often says to people he loves. There’s also a lot of “God bless you, man” in the film, which runs just over two hours, and premiered on Netflix in September.
Jones oozes so much charm on camera (probably in real life too) it nearly melts the frame. But does the man have a darker side? If he does, you never find out. Either way it’s obvious that his way with people, especially other artists, has greased the rails of a mega-productive career. And it happened despite the fact that Jones experienced a stroke and two brain aneurysms.
Jones’ career was truly a whirlwind, much of it based on his nerve and foresight. He produced “The Color Purple” and it was his idea to make Oprah the star of it. He also produced “The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire” and somehow knew to cast Will Smith.
More importantly, Jones did arrangements for Sinatra – songs like “Fly Me to the Moon” are theirs – which also earned him the singer’s friendship and a posthumous pinky ring, a piece of gold from Ol’ Blue Eyes that the 85-year-old still wears today.
And of course there is work with Michael Jackson, three records in all, including “Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad.” It goes on and on. There is plenty more to know. This documentary (co-directed and written by Alan Hicks) is almost encyclopedic in the amount of American music history it puts on the table.
Be sure to check it out. It’s the story of how Quincy Jones, born in Chicago in 1933, fought back against discrimination to mold American culture into something of his own. He did it through hard work and a real genius for music.