Tag Archives: Duke Ellington

Music: Quincy Jones


An arranger, record producer, performer, film score composer, and television producer, Quincy Jones is one of the most influential musicians of the last century. Uploaded by urbanascore.com.

You could probably win a few bar bets with this question: What individual has the most Grammy Nominations? Yes, the answer is Quincy Jones – with a whopping 79 (and 27 wins, all as a record producer). “Q,” as he’s often called, is not only a record producer but also an arranger, a film composer, and a television producer.

Jones earned a scholarship to a music conservatory in Boston, but dropped out to travel with Lionel Hampton. That experience led to the opportunity to arrange songs for Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Ray Charles. Not long after, director Sidney Lumet chose

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Jones to compose the music for his film The Pawnbroker. It was the first of 33 movies for which he wrote the score. Among his other films are In the Heat of the Night and The Color Purple.

As he turned his attention to record producing, he maintained his high standards. Among the records he produced are “We Are The World,” Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Frank Sinatra’s It Might As Well Be Spring, and Ella Fitzgerald/Count Basie’s Ella and Basie!

In 1995, Jones became the first African-American to win the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award presented at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

Americana: Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall was the home of the New York Philharmonic for 70 years until the opening of Lincoln Center. Uploaded by images.nymag.com.

Two blocks south of Central Park on Seventh Ave. you’ll find one of the world’s premier concert halls. Funded, as the name implies, by the great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the building has been a leading venue for outstanding artists in many musical genres since its completion in 1892. It’s known for its beauty and fabulous acoustics.

The main auditorium, which seats 2,804 on five levels, was home for the New York Philharmonic until it moved to Lincoln Center in 1962. Without its primary tenant, the building was scheduled for demolition to make way for a skyscraper. Fortunately, the city of New York was able to purchase the historic site, much to the relief of music lovers everywhere.

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Over the years, Carnegie Hall has seen the debut of important musical works, including Symphony No. 9, opus 95, “From the New World” by Antonín Dvořák, Sinfonia Domestica by Richard Strauss, and An American in Paris by George Gershwin. Other composers whose works premiered at Carnegie Hall include Sergei Rachmaninoff, Béla Bartók, Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, and Philip Glass.

Lest you think popular music has no place in such a sacred venue, consider that rock and roll has been represented by everyone from Bill Haley and the Comets to the Beatles to Pink Floyd to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Naturally, you’ll want to see this important building when you visit New York City. So exactly how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Prac…

Song: “Autumn Leaves”

This hauntingly beautiful song had French origins, but was adapted to English by American Johnny Mercer. Uploaded by mukurahat.us.

We would share this wonderful classic with Great French Things, were there such a thing, because its melody was written by a French songwriter, Joseph Kosma. American Johnny Mercer gave it English lyrics in 1947.

Johnny Mercer. Uploaded by broadwayworld.com.

Johnny Mercer founded and co-owned Capitol Records. Jo Stafford was under contract to Capitol Records. Therefore, Jo Stafford was the first to record Kosma and Mercer’s beautiful song.

Even though such popular artists as Bing Crosby and Artie Shaw did their own versions, “Autumn Leaves” didn’t really catch on for almost a decade. Then pianist Roger Williams took it to number one – the only piano instrumental ever to reach the top of the charts. From then on it became a jazz standard, brought to life by Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, and Cannonball Adderley.

Most of the jazz versions are, understandably, instrumentals. Until recently, the essential vocal version was performed by Nat King Cole for a movie called – surprise! – Autumn Leaves. But once you’ve heard Eva Cassidy’s unbelievable version, you’ll realize that she now owns this song. OWNS it.

“Les feuilles mortes” (literally “The Dead Leaves”)