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December 8, 2013 11:18 AM   Subscribe

This is a question about the musician Quincy Jones.

The only song of Quincy Jones' with which I am familiar is the Sanford and Son theme, aka "The Streetbeater."

It is my understanding that there is a lot more to Mr. Jones' ouevre than this, that only knowing this one song is kind of like only knowing one of William Faulkner's dirty limericks.

So if I wanted to get to know his music a little better, where would I start? What are good albums for a beginner?

Many thanks in advance. Happy Holidays!
posted by jason's_planet to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I really like his jam sessions with Bill Cosby.
posted by leesh at 11:27 AM on December 8, 2013

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme and interstitial music from the show.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:38 AM on December 8, 2013

Perhaps you are familiar with some of his production credits, like "Thriller" or "Off The Wall"?

(wasn't sure if you were referring only to his compositions or not.)
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:57 AM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You've probably heard music from this album and not even realized it was Quincy...
Big Band Bossa Nova - a classic!
posted by mdrew at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Quincy Jones co-wrote the theme song ("Hikky Burr") to the first sitcom starring Bill Cosby, The Bill Cosby Show.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:19 PM on December 8, 2013

Wikipedia has a long and interesting list of production credits..

(Personally, I got a nice little surprise in my recent AskMefi question about The Brothers Johnson.)
posted by ovvl at 2:46 PM on December 8, 2013

If you've seen the first Austin Powers movie, you've heard one of his songs as the dance number in the opening titles.
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 6:35 PM on December 8, 2013

Best answer: I really like Quincy Jones' early-mid 70s stuff, when he was moving beyond straight jazz and soundtrack work into a relatively smart soul/funk/r&b/pop/electronic hybrid that helped define 70s soul and has been sampled heavily in the decades since. One of my fave tracks is "Beautiful Black Girl" from 1975's Mellow Madness, which also has the Brothers Johnson on bass and guitar on sweet funk like "Tryin' To Find Out About You."

But that's not the best album to start with. The transition between his 60s and early-70s work is full of neat, experimental, funky sounds as he tried various approaches; not all of it works, but when it does it's pretty unbeatable stuff. Try these LPs:

1969 - Walking in Space - Check the great title cut, the funky big band jazz groove "Dead End", and another brilliant jazz cover, "Killer Joe."

1970 - Gula Matari - You can really hear Jones erasing genre boundaries on this one, including the fantastic title cut, a great bluesy cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and a kickass groovy Nat Adderly cover.

1971 - Smackwater Jack - an incredibly solid record, from the country funk title track, "Hikky Burr" with Bill Cosby, "Ironside" (which you'll instantly recognize from Kill Bill), the sublime solos on "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," the Marvin Gaye cover...if I had to pick just one Quincy Jones record, this would probably be it.

1974 - Body Heat - Another solid collection of funky soul and quiet-storm-type ballads; try "One Track Mind," "Soul Saga (Song of the Buffalo Soldier)," "Body Heat" and "Boogie Joe the Grinder."

There you go. If you like the big band jazz cuts on the earlier albums, then you'll probably like some of his 50s and 60s work with high ratings on this page. If you like the more mainstream funk and R&B flavored songs on the later albums, keep going with his production work on the first two Brothers Johnson records, Look Out for #1 and Right On Time. Their third collaboration in 1978 has a lot in common with the groundbreaking work Jones would do with Michael Jackson on Off the Wall the next year. But damn did Quincy Jones have a helluva run in the early 70s.
posted by mediareport at 10:16 PM on December 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by jason's_planet at 5:41 PM on December 11, 2013

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