Quincy Jones – Q: Soul Bossa Nostra
Friday, 24th December 2010
If knighthoods were given in music, the legendary producer Quincy Jones would no doubt feature somewhere near the top of the list for his outstanding contributions for over five decades. From Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson, the man commonly known as “Q” is no stranger to working with the big boys of the music business. With the release of Q: Soul Bossa Nostra, Jones returns with a star-studded cover album reinterpreting some of his classic hits. As collaborative projects go, it doesn’t come much bigger than this. From the rap rhythms of Snoop Dog to the powerful vocals of Jennifer Hudson, Jones has a broad palette of talent on board for a rap-sing-song down memory lane.
While the album features some of the hottest names in pop, hip-hop and R&B, it is nevertheless a Quincy Jones comeback and the man has a lot to live up to. With a wealth of musical brilliance behind him, Q: Soul Bossa Nostra was never going to be an easy record to make. Focusing on rapping and singing, Jones doesn’t seem that hard pushed production wise. Although lacking the magic of his previous work, Jones’ latest music project is well worth a listen as after all it “pays tribute to a living legend” as rapped out by Ludacris.
The opening track ‘Ironside’ featuring Talib Kweli erupts into a blaring siren-led intro that moves smoothly into a retro combo of rap and vocals, accompanied by an infusion of modern sounds and lively brass bursts. Probably the most musically artistic track on the album, Jones injects some new life into this extended version of the 1970s music theme of the same name. Likewise, ‘Soul Bossa Nostra’ featuring Ludacris, Naturally 7 and Rudy Currence is an enjoyable catchy tune that is best known from the Austin Powers film series. The highlight on the album, however, comes from ‘Give me the Night’ featuring Jamie Foxx, an instant hit with its smooth vocals and R&B grooves.
Although the first half of the album shines, the latter half is not quite up to standard with songs such as the instantly forgettable Bebe Winas ballad ‘Everything Must Change’. From the middle of the road to the over-polished, the T-Pain and Robin Thicke interpretation of Thriller’s ‘P.Y.T’ (Pretty Young Thing) fails to come close to the original with an excess of auto-tune that not even the great Quincy Jones can get away with. As for ‘It’s My Party’ featuring Amy Winehouse, there is little to praise in the way of vocals as the singer slurs her away through this oddly placed track.
As collaborative go, Quincy Jones’ Q: Soul Bossa Nostra packs in the good, the bad and the ugly. While some of the covers have either the hit or grow factor about them, others have the power to make you want to race back to the original. When he gets it right, however, Jones’ music machine works wonders and reminds us that good quality songs never go out of fashion.