Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones
- Arts, Biography, Cultural History, Music, and Human Interest
Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones explores the unique, multifaceted icon who has shaped four generations of American sound. This intimate journey traces Jones' roots from Chicago's South Side to his formative years in Seattle, from historical musical collaborations to his relationships with and personal health issues. Family, colleagues and friends - including Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Barbra Streisand, Oprah Winfrey and Ella Fitzgerald - come together to create a stirring portrait in this innovative and original film.
- Show treatment
If casual music fans know the name of the man who is the subject of Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones, more than likely it's as the producer of Off the Wall and Thriller, the two albums that launched Michael Jackson into the pop stratosphere, or perhaps as the musical mastermind behind "We Are the World." Yet while those may be Jones's biggest successes, they certainly aren't the only ones; indeed, some might argue that they are not even the most representative entries on the resumÃ© of the composer-arranger-producer who has made a career of defying all attempts to categorize and define him. A partial list of the folks who appear in director Ellen Weissbrod's 1990 documentary provides some idea of Jones's stature: Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Barbra Streisand, to name just the biggest of the big. Some of them were involved in the making of Back on the Block, the album Jones was working on at the time and a kind of career summation that included elements of jazz, pop, hip-hop, R&B, and other styles. That recording provides the overall context here, but there's a great deal more, as Jones leads us through his hardscrabble Chicago childhood (his mother had gone to a mental hospital when he was 6 or 7; as a result, "the word 'mother' doesn't have much meaning for me"), the family's move to Seattle, his days as a trumpeter with Lionel Hampton and later as leader of his own big band, his move into production (among his earliest successes, amazingly, was Lesley Gore's "It's My Party") and film composing (In the Heat of the Night, The Color Purple, Roots, and many more), his three failed marriages, the effects of race on his life and work, and serious health issues such as the near-fatal cerebral aneurysm he suffered in 1974. Weissbrod takes a creative approach to all of this, eschewing voice-over narration in favor of a more freeform collection of spoken words and images, often commingling and overlapping older footage with moodily lit current interview segments and scenes of "Q" at work in the studio. Innovative and original, Roger Ebert called "Listen Up" " Intimate, frank, and fascinating. Two thumbs up!"
- Running time
- 119 minutes
- Melissa Powell ... Line Producer/Production Manager
- Prod. Co.
- Warner Bros.
- United States
- Years of Production
- U.S., France, Mexico
- Release year
- Toronto, NY, Edinburgh
- Warner Bros.
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