The name of Quincy Jones‘ latest, “Q: Soul Bossa Nostra,” doesn’t betray the depth of music’s past, present and future its 15 tracks embody. On the album, due Nov. 9, the legendary producer and musician reinterprets several of the hits and collaborations he’s been responsible for in his long career with fresh versions featuring some of the hottest names in pop, hip-hop and R&B working today. Quincy Jones himself sat down to share his thoughts about each track and its history, and about working with artists like John Legend, Amy Winehouse, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Usher, T.I., B.o.B., David Banner and many others on the brand new versions. “Woo, these guys are hard to pin down,” Jones laughed, recalling the memory of bringing the various artists in to do their parts. “[But] everybody came in a and brought it home.”
1. “Ironside” (feat. Talib Kweli)
One of Jones’ many forays into television theme songs, “Ironside” was the music for the long-running ’60s and ’70s detective drama of that name.
|MORE NEW ALBUMS OUT 11/9
“The Gift” by Susan Boyle
“Man On The Moon II – The Legend Of Mr. Rager” by Kid Cudi
“Live In New York City” by Dave Matthews Band
“Lady Killer” by Cee Lo Green
“All The Women I Am” by Reba McEntire
The new version, Jones explains, highlights Kweli’s contribution. “Talib did an incredible rap on that. He tore that up. It’s the original track though, big-band and everything else. When I first did it, they said they wanted me to hold it down a little bit because it’s for the midwest and people that were shut-ins. I said okay and I chilled it down a little bit for the show. I was working with Sinatra in Vegas then and I did an album called “Smackwater Jack” and I did like I wanted to do it [on that album]. I think a month later, they bought that one and put that in the show,” he laughs.
“Akon was really a pro,” Jones says of working on the new version. “He did the record and the video within three weeks, you know. He was just so different and creative and warm. They put me in the video but Akon had the beautiful girl [laughs]. The girl was with me but I was playing piano so I couldn’t do anything about it.”
3. “Soul Bossa Nostra” (feat. Ludacris, Naturally 7 and Rudy Currence)
This new interpretation is based on Jones’ 1962 instrumental “Soul Bossa Nova.”
“Naturally Seven is one of my favorite groups,” says Jones. “We’ve worked together all over the world. They’ve got a Take 6 influence but they’re hip-hop and they do drama and mime and all kinds of things. I think they could be a big inflluence for the next step for hip-hop. They’re on there with Ludacris. He did [“Soul Bossa Nova”] another way. He has no end. He’s an amazing human being. He cracks me up. He is college educated and from Atlanta; He’s very polite. It was ‘Sir’ and ‘Mr. Jones’ when I first met him and I said, ‘Man, how on Earth did you write, ‘Move Bitch, Get Out The Way?’ [laughs] Because he’s such a gentleman. But he’s got that versatility I guess. It was fun. I wrote that in 1962 in 20 minutes for a big band Bossa Nova album right after we left Brazil with Dizzy Gilespie, when the bossa nova first started. And it won’t go away. Mike Myers used it for the themes of the Austin Powers films. [Now] Ludacris did it too. It’s still here.”
4. “Give Me The Night” (feat. Jamie Foxx)
This tune was the title track and lead hit from George Benson’s 1980 album, which Quincy Jones produced.
“Jamie is one of my favorite people; he played the role and won the Oscar of a man that I came up with. When I was 14 years old I met Ray Charles, and he was 16. But he was like 100 years older than me. Jamie brought a whole brand new personality to [the song] as only he would. He’s a good musician, a great musician. I was blessed they called me to conduct “Georgia On My Mind” for him and Alicia Keys at the Grammys after he won the Oscar.
5. “Tomorrow” (feat. John Legend)
“Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me)” was a hit for Jones and a very young Tevin Campbell, reaching No. 1 on the Hip-Hop/R&B Songs chart in 1990.
“Tevin was 12 years old when I first saw him,” says Jones of mentoring Campbell, who appears on the original. “He’s from the big city of Waxahachie, Texas, as country as he can get. I like to tease him all the time. So John Legend, who I’ve been supportive of since I met him because I think he’s a beautiful human being, he took on that role [on the new tune].”
“He literally is like a little brother,” Jones says of Legend, who, like all of the other collaborators chose which track to perform on. “He looks exactly like Richard Jones, my baby brother in Seattle. I think [this version uses] the original track, it’s hard to tell sometimes because they mix it up. I told everybody to do your own thing but make it better than the one we did.”
6. “You Put A Move On My Heart” (feat. Jennifer Hudson)
The Oscar-winning American Idol alum with the big voice took on the tune that appeared on Jones’ 1995 album “Q’s Jook Joint.” The 1995 version featured singer Tamia.
7. “Get The Funk Out Ma Face” (feat. Snoop Dogg)
The song, co-written by Jones and the Brothers Johnson, was a hit on the Hot 100 in 1976, where it reached the top 30 and spent 15 weeks on the chart.
“That fits Snopp Dogg like a glove,” Jones says. “I’ve known him before electricity [laughs]. He’s beautiful. I remember a long time ago security used to call me, and they’d say, ‘Mr. Jones, we’ve got Snoop Dogg, the whole Dogg pound over here. What should we do?’ And I’m in Europe someplace. I said, ‘Tell them to take their shoes off, give them a cool drink, something to eat, and tell them to make themselves at home.’ I just love him. He’s from East St. Louis and I used to stay there too, with my grandmother. When you bond with somebody, that’s divinity. It’s common interests, it’s about love.”
8. “Secret Garden” (feat. Usher, Robin Thicke, Tyrese Gibson, LL Cool J, Tevin Campbell and Barry White)
This 1990 Hip-Hop/R&B No. 1 Quincy Jones ensemble tune originally featured Al B. Sure, James Ingram, El Debarge and Barry White. The new version retains White, and calls on 1990 collaborator Campbell to join the new crew of Thicke, Gibson, and LL Cool J.
“LL Cool is beautiful,” Jones says, singling out one of the new collaborators. “[This song] just reminds you how many hours you’ve occupied on this planet. We did ‘Secret Garden’ back in 1989 and that’s nothing compared to the 77 years I’ve been here.”
9. “Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me” (feat. Mary J. Blige, Q-Tip and Alfredo Rodriguez)
This track originally appeared on Jones’ 1981 album, “The Dude,” and featured Stevie Wonder and Patti Austin.
“I remember in the studio when we were recording the original one and Stevie Wonder used to play on all my sessions back then,” Jones remembers. As for the new track, Jones says, “Alredo Rodriguez is one of the best piano players on the planet. He’s 24. Mary J. is a very distinctive singer. I think that applies in each case [on this album]. I’ve been in the record industry 60 years, and I’ve always said that if you can’t identify the artist in 20 seconds then they’re not stars, they don’t have that thing. Most singers have a God-given sound that identifies them. You don’t have to ask who Usher is, or who Michael [Jackson] was, or Stevie or Prince. It’s a sound, it’s a life experience. All of these people, that’s what they have and that’s what I like to work with. I’m very proud to have them on the songs we were associated with.
10. “Everything Must Change” (feat. Bebe Winans)
The earlier version of the song appeared on Jones’ 1974 album “Body Heat.”
“Bebe’s my baby, way back,” Jones says of longtime friend Bebe Winans. “The Winans I’ve known for years. They were all on my label, Qwest Records, years ago, the whole family. It feels like family too. Bebe and I went all over the world.”
11. “Many Rains Ago (Oluwa)” [feat. Wyclef Jean]
This song was originally part of Jones’ music for the 1977 mini-series “Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel.
“That’s Wyclef,” says Jones of the new version. “They had a big special last week and were talking about the biggest shows on TV and ‘Roots’ came in first with an 80 percent share. It’s astounding, isn’t it? There’s a lot of memories there, a lot of beautiful memories of first meeting Alex Haley.”
12. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) [feat. T-Pain and Robin Thicke]
The original was one of the tunes on Michael Jackson’s landmark 1982 album, “Thriller,” which Jones produced.
Jones pronounces the new version, “burnin’, it’s smokin’. People have their own interpretation and that’s got to happen. That’s what we wanted to happen, so it will be interpreted through the tastes of today’s market. As I said, I’ve only been in the business 60 years, so what do I know? But they did a good job.”
13. It’s My Party (feat. Amy Winehouse)
This tune was a hit for Lesley Gore which spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1963. Quincy Jones is widely credited for discovering Gore, and helmed the original.
The new version was “one of the last songs” to make the new album, according to Jones. “We were doing a concert for Mandela’s 90th birthday two years ago in London,” Jones recalls of the genesis of the collaboration on the new version. “I was backstage and a man came over and said, ‘would you mind meeting my daughter?’ No problem. I had no idea who it was. She got on her knees and she kissed my hand and she says, ‘I’ve known your music ever since you were my age, 24 years old, when you did ‘The Swinging Miss D’ with Dinah Washington.’ I was absolutely shocked. It was Amy Winehouse!
“I had no idea that she was that astute; she was amazing. Reminded me of Naomi a little bit, my baby. Sweet as she could be. I told her, ‘why are you treating your life like this?’ I’ve got six daughters so I can’t help but being Poppy. We bonded. Everybody back here said, ‘there’s no way you’ll get Amy Winehouse on this record.’ And we just let it go. Amy did it herself. At first she was going to do ‘You Don’t Own Me.’ Then she changed her mind and wanted to do ‘It’s My Party,’ which I did with Leslie Gore in 1963. That was a long time ago. Stuff just happened and I’m glad it happened to me. [laughs] It touched me very much.”
14. “Hikky-Burr” (feat. Three 6 Mafia and David Banner)
The theme song for the first “Bill Cosby Show,” which premiered in 1969, featured a horn-centric theme song with a quirky name co-written by Jones and Cosby.
“I go back to Cafe Wha? with him, waaay back. That’s one of the good parts about getting older,” Jones says of his longtime friendship with Cosby. “So we’re shooting out at Warner Brothers, he’s shooting the show and I’m doing the music. I said I’d like to improvise the scoring. We had a regular band of great musicians, Ray Brown and Paul Humphrey and all these guys. And [then] we’d have Oscar Peterson, Cannonball Adderly. It was astounding. They’d play all the themes together so it was different at the end of each show. In the middle of this, all of the sudden I hear all of this gobbledy-gook in my earphones and I look up there and there’s Cosby on a bassoon trying to play some Coltrane. [laughs] I’ll never forget, we got the bassoon away from him and I handed him a cowbell. It came out of a bond and we wrote a tune around it. They’re beautiful memories. [This version] is fantastic. Three 6 Mafia, they hang out over here. Those are my homeys. All of theses cats are. Usher has stayed here since he was 16.”
15. “Sanford And Son” (feat. T.I., B.o.B, Prince Charlez and Mohombi)
Another of Jones’ recognizable television theme songs, this one was for the 1970s hit show featuring Redd Foxx, who was known as an extremely explicit comedian before that point.
“Oh boy,” Jones says, recalling how he became involved with writing this show’s music. “Bud Yorkin came over my house around 1970 and he said we just bought the rights of a show from England called ‘Steptoe and Son.’ ‘Sanford and Son’ was taken from the English TV show. He said, ‘I’d like you to write the theme for it.’ I said, ‘who’s in it?’ And he said Redd Foxx. I said, ‘man, you can’t put Redd Foxx on national TV.[laughs] I had worked with Redd Foxx 30 years before that at the Apollo. We used to do the Chitlin Circuit. I used to write this music for him to come out with. [Yorkin] said, ‘No, it’s gonna be a great great show. And it was. [Foxx] took his sense of humor and took it all the way to the top. I wrote that [song] in about 20 minutes too. We had four musicians, Recorded it in about 20 minutes. It’s amazing. Looking back, it’s a trip. [On this version] there’s some serious people on there. And [producer] RedOne is very, very talented. He did the work for the remake of “We Are The World.”