Quincy Jones receives star-studded 90th birthday treatment at Hollywood Bowl

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The Hollywood Bowl honored legendary producer/writer/composer/musician/arranger Quincy Jones with a two-night show in celebration of his 90th birthday, which happened March 14th. The shows took place July 28th and 29th with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Jules Buckley. In Jones’s career spanning seven decades he has received 80 Grammy nominations and 28 wins, is a Kennedy Center honoree, Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and National Medal of Arts recipient. Since 1955, Jones has released more than 20 albums. Since 1965, Jones has written scores for over 30 films. Jones has also produced over 60 albums by artists like Michael Jackson, George Benson, Billy Eckstine, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, and Frank Sinatra with Count Basie. Following the orchestra’s performance of our National Anthem, the orchestra and a house band including Jones’s go to session players keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, drummer John ‘Jr’ Robinson, bassist Nathan East, and guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. performed a two set show of some of Jones’s greatest work. 

Actor Chris Tucker came out to kick off the evening and the first musical guest of the evening (night one) was pianist Alfredo Rodriguez performing Jones’s “Soul Bossa Nova” which was recorded back in 1962. The show continued with a performance of “Misty” with Samara Joy then Aloe Blacc performing Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” Jones  produced, composed, conducted, and arranged for Sinatra. Next up was Patti Austin, whom Quincy produced her self-titled album and Every Home Should Have One. Austin performed “How Do You Keep The Music Playing” and then was joined by a big surprise guest which was none other than Stevie Wonder for “Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me.” Wonder then performed “You Got It Bad Girl.” John Legend, another surprise guest, came out for “Just Once.” The first Michael Jackson song of the night “She’s Out of My LIfe” was performed by trumpet player Ibrahim Maalouf.” Set one closed out with Sheléa performing “You Put a Move On My Heart” followed by the backing vocalists on the Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp.” Bassist Louis Johnson was one of Jones’ main sessions bassists and was on Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Dangerous.” 

Set two was mostly Michael Jackson’s hits from his first major solo album Off The Wall, the greatest selling album of all time Thriller, and Bad, another major album for Jackson, all produced by Jones. Sax player Larry Williams was on all three. Robinson and Phillinganes were both on Off The Wall. Phillinganes and Jackson Jr. were both on Thriller and Robinson, Phillinganes, and East were all on Bad. Of the seven singles from Thriller, six were performed and the first song of the second set was the opening song of the album which was “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” performed by Angélique Kidjo and Ollie Brown. Just like Jackson did in concert many times, the song was stopped halfway through then they jumped right back into it. The King of Pop’s hits continued with “Rock With You” starting with Robinson’s signature drum intro and was performed by Avery Wilson. Stevie Mackie joined in for “Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough,” also from Off the Wall. Jones’s protege Jacob Collier and his mother Suzie performed “Human Nature.” BJ The Chicago Kid performed “Billie Jean.” Vula Malinga performed “P.Y.T.” 

Avery Wilson performed “Thriller,” which at the time of the video release was the most expensive music video made. During the instrumental part of the song, Wilson pulled off all of Jackson’s signature moves from the video. In addition to the musicians to be on some of Jackson’s biggest hits produced by Jones, there was one singer that had been on two songs on “Bad” which were “Man in the Mirror” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” Siedah Garret who co-wrote “Man in the Mirror” with Glen Ballard came out to perform it. The show ended with what I would call a two-part finale since for the 2nd to last song “Let The Good Times Roll” Austin, Joy, Collier, Rodriguez and Maalouf all came out and Producer/Drummer Gregg Field guested on drums. Wonder returned to kick off his version of “Happy Birthday” and all guests joined in to celebrate the iconic Quincy Jones. 

Words by Alex Kluft
Photos courtesy of Timothy Norris/Los Angeles Philharmonic Association