Quincy Jones to Receive Desi Arnaz Pioneer Award From Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame

Legendary producer and musician Quincy Jones, who is today (March 14) celebrating his 80th birthday, sat down with Billboard to discuss his illustrious career. (Photo: Joseph Llanes)

The Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame will present Quincy Jones with a special honor during its upcoming 2015 La Musa Awards ceremony.

Jones will be the recipient of the Desi Arnaz Pioneer Award, named for the Cuban musician who became popularly known as TV’s Ricky Ricardo. The award was created to recognize trailblazers in contemporary music.

Musician, producer, music mogul and 27-time Grammy winner Jones is most often identified with Thriller and known as one of the godfathers of hip-hop. But Q -- who counts Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez among his current proteges -- has had a long, cool connection to Latin music.

In 1962, Jones released the album Big Band Bossa Nova, which opens with his song “Soul Bossa Nova.” The groovy track would later be adopted as the theme song for the Austin Powers movies.

On, the 82-year-old music legend explains how he was in Buenos Aires with Dizzy Gillespie’s USO touring band when he met the young Lalo Schifrin, the Argentine pianist and composer who would later write the theme for Mission:Impossible.

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“He told us once you get to Brazil you’re going to see some new music that they’re experimenting with,” Jones recalls in a text on the site. “They call it New Wave, which is what Bossa Nova means in Portuguese. In the beginning they called it jazz and samba.”

Jones describes an afternoon in Rio: “On Copacabana beach, Dizzy asked me to go to the Gloria Hotel,” he remembers. “Dizzy sat in with the house band, a Samba band playing bebop. In the front seats in the audience were Astrud and Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. They were very young.”

Jones included songs by Jobim and Sergio Mendes on Big Band Bossa Nova, and recruited Schifrin, as well as jazz masters like Clark Terry, Phil Woods, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who plays the familiar flute solo on “Soul Bossa Nova.” Phil Ramone was the recording engineer on the album.

The Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame Musa Awards Ceremony takes place on Oct. 15 at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater. Emilio Estefan, Gustavo Santaolalla and other songwriters will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during the show.