Few men or women in music have accomplished so much in popular music and remain as relevant than Quincy Jones, who today turns 82. From his jazz roots, meeting Ray Charles in Seattle, to his musical training in Paris; to working with Frank Sinatra, George Benson and of course Michael Jackson, it is no cliché to say that Quincy Jones has done it all. But more than that, he’s done it all so well for such a long period of time.
In 1981 Mr Jones released a fine album entitled The Dude which featured a whole array of singers and musicians including both Patti Austen and Stevie Wonder. The album was a commercial success, with the lead single ‘Razzamataz’ reaching #11 on the UK singles charts, whilst the tune ‘Ai No Corrida’ became a disco anthem which has been featured on nearly every disco compilation released this side of the Atlantic. Whilst not an overly critical success, the album was successful at the following year’s Grammy awards: it won three awards for Jones, whilst the song ‘One Hundred Ways’, which introduced pianist-turned-singer James Ingram to the world, winning him a Grammy for Best R&B Male Performance at the same time.
Fitting the mould of a classic soul ballad, it is arguably the finest song on the album. Ingram’s voice is one of the finest and most underappreciated in soul music, and demonstrates on this song that he deserves more credit than he currently gets from the soul community. Jones’ production is exquisite too; the strings and horns are mixed beautifully, complimenting Ingram’s soaring vocals majestically. The lyrics are unabashedly soppy:
Compliment what she does
Send her roses just because
If it’s violins she loves
Let them play
Dedicate her favorite song
And hold her closer all night long
Lover her today
Find one hundred ways…
Yet this suits Ingram well. Whilst he is more than comfortable leading uptempo grooves, such as his duet with Michael McDonald on the eighties smash ‘Yah Mo Be There’ (also produced by Quincy Jones) Ingram’s forte is the romantic, soulful ballad. For us there’s nothing quite like ‘One Hundred Ways’.
The Dude is a fine Quincy Jones production. Sure it’s not quite Michael Jackson’s solo efforts, or George Benson’s Give Me The Night, but it is still good. It’s even better considering Jones’ workload at the time: 1979 he produced Off The Wall, 1980 – Give Me The Night, and the Brothers Johnson’s Light Up My Night; as well as The Dude in 1981 he produced an album for Patti Austen, and one for Lena Horne, and then in 1982 he toured Japan, produced Thriller, Donna Summer’s self-titled album. The man was, and appears to remain, a workaholic. Let’s be grateful he was, for Quincy Jones has created some of the most enduring music ever made.
Happy Birthday Quincy!