In Three Words: Unmatched, Whirlwind, Awe.
I didn't want to go into this review listing off all the things Quincy has done. We'll be here all day. And I don't say that lightly, we literally would be here all day if we tried to account for everything that Quincy did. And this documentary doesn't try to do that. It's a balanced diet of looking at the man Quincy and the musical genius of the man that goes, simply, the letter "Q".
It's great that the first person to say anything in this documentary is Dr Dre, looking completely dumbfounded whilst gazing upon the many many accomplishments Quincy Jones has. I say it's great because if you read my review on "The Defiant Ones", you know that Dre is a pillar in music and obviously, Hip-Hop. Dre is a King that sees Quincy Jones as a God, the "ultimate mentor & inspiration" and that is all the reason I can give if you asked me "should I watch this?". But obviously I'm not going to stop there, so let's dive on in!
The documentary as a whole splits into two. Going from the backstory of Q's life and the time of principle shooting, which was the majority of 2015. In the 'real time' section, Quincy was asked to curate the music and guest speakers for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. We'll talk about that later. The second half of the story was great. Learning about Qunicy's upbringing was very interesting. How his parents lived, how his grandmother was a former slave, you watch the black & white archive footage and Quincy talking over it, I simply wondered how did he get here?! To the heights of it all. Obviously those questions were put on hold because we went back to 2015 and the major health scare Quincy had. The back & forth between his history and his life now was a nice touch.
Throughout the film, you get voices of people that have been & gone, talking over some archive footage, those moments were some of my favourites. The moment of Ray Charles' voice, reminiscing about how a then 14-year-old Quincy Jones introduced himself. That was an exchange any music lover would just smile watching. You will get a lot of these moments. Ray, Frank Sinatra, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, it really adds depth to it all.
An overall point that just makes me shake my head in astonishment, is this very minor note. ALL THE MUSIC IN THIS DOCUMENTARY IS EITHER COMPOSED, PRODUCED AND/OR INVOLVES QUINCY. You may think I'm being silly, but I guarantee that you'll hear music that you have definitely heard before and one by one, as iconic piece after iconic piece passes, you will say at some point "I can't believe he did that!" He's done all of this and we're probably only scratching the surface. Who else can you create a two hour documentary for and have their music exclusively provide the soundtrack?!
Another thing that you realise while watching this. If you're like me and haven't been alive long enough to follow Quincy's career, the reason why people like Herbie Hancock say that nobody should try to be him, is because the dude has had so many health scares it's quite amazing that he's still alive. Overworking, constant travelling, lack of exercise, the guy is as much as a medical marvel as he is a musical one. Every person that interviews him, start off wondering how the hell he has done as much as he has. The answer is simple, because he literally worked until he dropped. No sane person would constantly put themselves through that much. As an example, there was a small news clipping that looked into Quincy's 24 hour workday while working on "The Wiz".
How is it possible to do 24 hr workdays?!
The midpoint of the documentary is where we start to get into the familiar late 70's-early 80's and with that comes the meteoric rise of Michael Jackson. Every time I watch the archive footage of that time period, I always think to myself "I don't think I could ever comprehend how much of a whirlwind that must have been." Because I don't think you can. Quincy is probably the only person that could comprehensively paint the picture. But you get that feeling with most of Quincy's career. How he became lifelong friends with Ray Charles, how he worked with literally every name you can think of, how he went from dabbling in several instruments before falling in love with the trumpet.
How he went from playing, to composing, to curating his dream big band, to heading up a music label, to film scoring, to music producing, to doing his own music, to then build companies and do speaking events in his old age.
Just read that previous paragraph again for a second. Some people would consider one of those careers as a life's calling and just do that for the rest of their lives. Quincy did all of it and of the highest quality.
It's impossible to pack such an eventful life into two hours, but what Alan Hicks and Quincy's daughter Rashida Jones have done here is a damn good effort. I should give a mention to his family because the real turning point of this documentary was when he realised that he should put more time into being a father. If anything, Quincy is a great responder to what happens around him. When he notices that he has put work over his children, he sought to rectify that and from the looks of it, everybody was better off.
I'll leave with talking about my favourite scene. A small example of how established he is. In the planning stages leading up to the NMAAHC Ceremony, he casually lashed off a list of people he wants to be there, and every single one turns up.
There's connected and then there's Quincy Jones connected.