Mentored Quincy Jones?
Jones is a music producer and the all-time most nominated
Grammy artist with a total of 77 nominations and 26
winning Grammys. He was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago
and was raised in Seattle. His interest in music began
as a child and by the age of 12 he was singing in a
gospel quartet. As a junior in high school, he began
playing the trumpet and continued his musical education
at the prestigious Berkelee College of Music in Boston.
Charles is from Florida. When we met I was 14, he was
16. I just looked up to him because he knew how to do
always used to say to us, "Quincy, play the music
the way it was originally conceived because that's the
original soul of the music, and every music has its
own soul." And that stuck with me the rest of my
Basie had a very earthy, down home way--he was like
a brother, he was like a father, he was like a manager,
advisor, mentor, everything. So, one time, I had a big
band together in New York years later, and he said,
"You want a gig?" I
said, "Of course I want a gig, we have nothing!"
700 people showed up there, the capacity of about 1800,
and only 700 showed up. So at the end of it, I'm confused,
and we get paid and everything else, and I look up there
and there's Basie, not too far from where we were, and
he said, "Give the man half his money back."
said, "Are you kidding?! We just played, we died
all night, and I have to pay all these guys
the man his money back. He put your name out front,
and people didn't show up--that's not his fault. He
might be the man that'll have to save you three years
from now. Give him half the money back."
mean, it was stuff like that. It was a lot of integrity
Tucker was another great mentor. He was a musical director.
He was the one in "Lady Sings the Blues"
that Richard Pryor played--that was Bobby Tucker.
was with Billie Holiday and he hired us at 14. We were
so awestruck with Billie at the rehearsal, she came
out and we forgot to play!
said, "O.K. guys, if you don't play soon I'm going
to make you buy a ticket."
couldn't believe we were playing with Billie Holiday.
the next year, he came through and he was with Billy
Eckstine, and he asked us to play with him again. Now
our confidence was built up since he asked us back after
we were so stupid the first time--I mean we were still
good musicians--and he asked us to play with Billy Eckstine.
what a mentor is all about: one person, who sees that
glimmer in your eye, sees the question marks in your
that have just gone through all this stuff and people
perceive them at 65 as having to be sent out to a pasture...that's
no need for a generation gap
please. Isn't it amazing
how you can make all those mistakes and then some mysterious
metamorphosis happens and suddenly they say, "Oh,
she's got tremendous experience." That means she's
made a lot of mistakes. And you need the opportunity
to make a lot of mistakes, but you need the people who
can say, "You don't need to do that, we already
blew that 20 years ago."