Eagle Rock Entertainment // 2008 // 156 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // August 6th, 2009
"You're the man, Quincy!"
Is there a more loved figure in the music industry than Quincy Jones? I'm not sure that there is. The man is something special. Yes, he's an immensely successful trumpeter, composer, producer, arranger, and conductor...but he's also a tireless humanitarian and a generally wonderful human being. I've heard so many different positive stories about Quincy Jones over the years from so many different musicians. Whether they're from the realm of film music, pop, jazz, or somewhere else entirely, they all love him. As such, when it came time for Claude Nobs of the Montreux Jazz Festival to plan a 75th Birthday Celebration for Jones, it wasn't difficult to secure a lot of talented people who eagerly flew up to Canada to participate in a musical tribute. The result is a joyous and immensely entertaining 156 minutes of terrific music. The selections are spot-on, the performances are tremendous and there isn't a single misfire in the entire batch. The 6-piece in-house band plus the larger Swiss Army Big Band provide the music in cooperation with a wide variety of guest stars.
Take a look at the set list and the performers involved here.
* "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" w/Herbie Hancock, Patti Austen
and Steve Woods
* "Let the Good Times Roll" w/James Moody and Rahsaan Patterson
* "Makin' Whoopee" w/Patti Austen
* "Moody's Mood" w/James Moody and Patti Austen
* "The Television Song" w/James Moody
* "Honeysuckle Rose"
* "Shiny Stockings" w/Freda Payne and Joe Sample
* "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town/In the Heat of the Night" w/Mick Hucknall
* "If I Ever Lose This Heaven" w/Ledisi
* "Midnight Sun" w/Al Jarreau and Larry Williams
* "One Mint Julip" w/Petula Clark
* "Going to Chicago Blues" w/Paolo Nutini and Petula Clark
* "My Ship/Summertime" w/Franco Ambrosetti
* "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
* "Almost Like Being in Love" w/Nana Mouskouri and James Morrison
* "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)" w/Chaka Khan and Patti Austen
* "What's Going On" w/Patrice Rushen, Ledisi, Rahsaan Patterson, Tobias Preisig, Toots Thielemans and James Morrison
* "Eye of Love (Carol's Theme)/Bluesette" w/Toots Thielemans
* "Walking in Space" w/Chaka Khan and Lee Ritenour
* "Strawberry Letter 23" w/Paolo Nutini and Lee Ritenour
* "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" w/Patti Austen
* "The Dude" w/Al Jarreau
* "Billie Jean" w/Naturally 7
* "Wall of Sound" w/Naturally 7
* "Mama Aifambeni" w/Angelique Kidjo
* "State of Independence" w/Angelique Kidjo and Larry Williams
* "Everything Must Change" w/Curtis Stigers
* "Cool Joe, Mean Joe (Killer Joe)" w/Herbie Hankcock
* "Ai No Corrida" w/Patti Austen, Gary Goldberg, Dorothea Lorene, Stevie Woods, Kent Stetler and Billy Cobham
* "Stuff Like That" w/all of the guest stars
All of this material is terrific, but which moments stand out as the best of the best? Jones' take on "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" is exceptional, offering a rollicking fusion of dramatic thematic material and jazz riffs. Ledisi sings the heck out of "If I Ever Lose This Heaven," and later joins a larger group of vocalists to do a very strong version of "What's Going On." The exceptional harmonica work of Toots Thielemans makes "Eyes of Love (Carol's Theme)/Bluesette" a rather moving instrumental entry. Paolo Nutini and guitarist Lee Ritenour turn in one of my very favorite performances of the evening, a riveting version of "Strawberry Letter 23." The recent passing of Michael Jackson adds a certain measure of weight to Naturally 7's inventive version of "Billie Jean" (it could be convincingly argued that Jones' production work on Jackson's albums played a very large role in the pop star's jaw-dropping success during the 1980s). The massive "Stuff Like That," which concludes the show, is an appropriately spectacular conclusion, allowing everyone to contribute a little bit to the wall of sound. Some may be disappointed that Jones himself never gets involved, instead sitting in the audience and simply soaking in the music. Hey, it's his party.
The disc benefits from a superb 1080i transfer, capturing the proceedings with clarity and depth. Flesh tones are accurate, the level detail is impressive, and blacks are nice and deep. I have no significant complaints with the visuals here despite the expected interlaced quality, as the performance looks sharp and engaging throughout. Still, where this disc really succeeds is in the audio department. A wide variety of mic set-ups are employed throughout the proceedings, and thankfully the audio retains a very satisfactory level of consistency. The track is dynamic and involving, fully capturing the broad range of the diverse ensemble of musicians. One of the most important qualities of any concert disc is the ability to capture that, "You are there,"-level audio, and this one certainly achieves that. The only supplement on the disc is a featurette called "ThankQ: A Montreux Tribute to Quincy Jones," which details the efforts that went into making the event happen.
Whether you're a long-time Quincy Jones fan or someone with only a passing familiarity with his music, this is a disc that you should consider picking up. It's one of the finest concert discs I've seen recently and it's very difficult to imagine anyone actually disliking the fine array of material presented in Quincy Jones: The 75th Birthday Celebration -- Live at Montreux. Very highly recommended.
Review content copyright © 2009 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 156 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated