Saturday, November 6, 2021

Part 4- "Quincy Jones - A Morning Light" by Raymond Horricks

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


“Quincy left the band after South America.

"I could've gone on balling with Dizzy, but I had writing to do and I wanted to be with my family," he explained.

Soon after this came the call from Creed Taylor, the recording manager at ABC Paramount. Was Quincy ready to make a big band LP of his own jazz works? "The day after Creed called I started planning the parts for my 'This Is How I Feel About Jazz' LP," the arranger recalls.

In the notes he made concerning this, his finest record so far, Quincy outlined his continuing attitude towards composing and arranging jazz. "This is," he wrote, "an attempt on my part to supply the settings, select the proper cast and musically portray my feelings about some of the less cerebral and more vital or basic elements contained in jazz. Trying to put into words the essence of these elements has made me realize that jazz is much easier to play than to say."

"At a recent Newport Jazz Festival," he continued, "one of the topics for panel discussion was 'The Future of Jazz'. As a member of this panel, I stated my preference for a 'natural growth' instead of a 'forced or blueprinted development'. Because of lack of time to explain this point thoroughly, it could possibly have been assumed that I was unaware of the possibilities uncovered only by advancement of jazz techniques.

"Such an assumption would be clarified, I hope, after hearing this album, as it has given me ample opportunity to present most of my favourite musicians and soloists in settings conducive to swinging and to their unlimited self-expression. (These latter elements comprise the most distinctive characteristics of jazz. Original voices are created and not mapped out, meaning you can't make a race horse out of a mule.)"

Quincy contributed six scores in all to "This Is How I Feel About Jazz". Hearing the record through later, I was convinced that not since Benny Carter had there been a jazz arranger so naturally matured at the tender age of twenty-four. Each of his qualities had been uncorked and poured into it. Heart, warmth, vitality, humour (sometimes sophisticated, sometimes puckish), and always impeccable taste. Musical efficiency, musical imagination, and the ability to fire an ensemble and its soloists, most of all rhythmically. One other quality I tried to describe in reviewing the record for Jazz Monthly. This was his being in line with the jazz tradition.

Beginning with a point Quincy had made in his notes, I wrote: "His arranging and composition, so different from the all-experimentalist writing of Macero and Russo, wishes to advance the known substances in jazz. In other words, to promote a natural growth, using what has been said already in jazz as a direct aid to saying newer things; and this without juxtaposing jazz and classical writing techniques and strange instrumental combinations. More than any other younger jazz inventor he seems to appreciate what has happened in jazz as well as what he himself wants to happen.

"At the present time too many modern arrangers are only preaching about the importance of the tradition in jazz. Jones is prepared to practise what he preaches, and throughout this, his arranger's showcase, his finger never leaves the pulse of jazz past as well as jazz present. The six arrangements it contains, if concerned with men and music of the post-Minton's age in jazz, are also in line with the grand tradition in jazz scoring—the tradition of Carter and Redman and Henderson, and even before that, of Jelly Roll Morton."

Three of the six scores were Quincy's own compositions: Stockholm Sweetnin', Evening In Paris and Boo's Blues, The remaining three were compositions he'd been considering using for some time: Walkin’, originally popularized by Miles Davis and a blues straight out of the gutbucket; Sermonette, by Cannonball Adderley and an instance of the spiritual's place in jazz; and A Sleepin’ Bee, by Harold Arlen, a song from the show House of Flowers. This show, although not a commercial success on Broadway, was blessed with an Arlen music score and lyrics by Truman Capote, the wombat-like author of Other Voices, Other Rooms. Quincy saw it and was captivated by the song and by Diahann Carroll's delivery of it.

Quincy gave considerable thought to astute programming as well as to purely aesthetic ideals in writing for the LP. In the set he had scores of varying texture and impact, performed by an orchestra of shifting proportions with a wide selection of soloists. (Tenorman Zoot Sims flew all the way from Washington, D.C. to New York to take just one solo with the band.)

There are many interesting finds in the scoring. The use of a baritone-anchor and the flute on top, for instance, gives the ensemble a range of nearly five octaves; so effective in the big band pieces. The verve and economy of the brass parts in Walkin' is reminiscent of a 'head' arrangement at its best; also, the very relaxed pulse of this performance, sustained through nearly eleven minutes. The orchestration of Clifford Brown's trumpet chorus in Stockholm Sweetnin.' This is particularly audacious. Every melodic turn Brownie improvised for the original record has been used, even the little double-tempo runs he used to link the main phrases. Cleverly grouping small units within the ensemble and frequently moving the lead from low-voiced to high-voiced units and back again, Quincy effects an imaginative and at the same time respectfully sensitive orchestration of the chorus. The flute and double bass alternating one bar ad libbed with one bar written to give an improvised feel to the opening of A Sleepin’ Bee; and the phrases following, so richly ensembled. Lastly, the very delicate impressionist sketch supporting the free jazz tenor in Evening In Paris; so deftly drawn. All these are typical of Quincy Jones at his most enterprising.

A little after the release of this record the arranger signed to return to Paris and work for Nicole Barclay's record company. He has written prolifically and well since then. "The atmosphere in Paris is so relaxed that it makes work easy," he wrote in one of his letters. "How can I describe all I feel for this city? Life doesn't seem like the race that it is in America and yet really you are working just as hard." He has a modern apartment on the Boulevard Victor Hugo, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and from now on he intends to work there for six months of every year. The other six he will spend in New York.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments here. Thank you.