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Published: 2009/08/26
by Brian Ferdman

Quincy Jones The 75th Birthday Celebration Live at Montreux 2008

Eagle Eye Media

When I first saw the press release for Quincy Jones – The 75th Birthday Celebration Live at Montreux 2008, I immediately thought, “Ho-hum, it’s another in the never-ending stream of releases from Montreux—and didn’t they just release another Quincy Jones show in the past year or two? Do we really need more?” Well, after only one viewing of this new release, I immediately knew that the answer was “Yes, we definitely need more!”

With a jam-packed lineup of all-stars playing Jones’ brilliant arrangements of classic songs, these two discs totaling nearly three hours consistently impress. The selections dip way, way back into Jones’ catalog, and the Swiss Army Big Band, who back the entire proceedings, really know how to hang loose, gamely diving into selections, such as the swinging “Let the Good Times Roll,” the slinking “Makin’ Whoopee,” and the down and dirty “One Mint Julep,” the latter finely delivered by the legendary Petula Clark. Actually, one can’t start using the word “legendary” when describing any one of the vast cast of characters in this massive concert because surely Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, James Moody, Lee Ritenour, Joe Sample, Toots Thielemans, and many others could all rightfully lay claim to that title.

How does one cite highlights from a concert that is nothing but highlight after highlight? Well, let’s just say that the cream of the very rich crop includes a sultry duet on “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” by Khan and Patti Austin, a smoothed-out but nonetheless poignant “What’s Goin’ On” with lead vocal lines being shared by Tobias Presig’s velvety violin and the soulful voices of Ledisi and Rahsaan Patterson, the ethereal and appropriately trippy “Walking in Space,” the high-hipped funk of “Strawberry Letter 23,” the spectacular acapella audio and visual pyrotechnics from Naturally 7 on “Billie Jean,” and the soul-funk throwdown on the groovin’ ensemble finale of “Stuff Like That.”

There is much to love on this very fitting tribute to Jones, a true titan of the music business, and the sheer scope of songs and participation of great artists is reason alone to own this release.

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