REVIEW: PROM 49 Quincy Jones Prom

Quincy Jones at the Proms.
Photo Credit: Mark Allan

PROM 49 Quincy Jones Prom
(Royal Albert Hall, 22nd August 2016. Review by Peter Jones)

Take one 83-year-old musical titan, add a young, groovy orchestrator and conductor, sprinkle with rising star dust, scrape the whole lot on to a massive stage in an iconic venue, and spread over a great pop orchestra. That was the recipe for this festival of fine trans-genre music, part of the annual Proms season from the BBC.

Quincy ‘Q’ Jones has won 28 Grammys, worked with Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Dizzie Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra… oh yes, and Michael Jackson, plus a crew of hiphop stars from Wyclef Jean to Usher. And he’s still at it, nowadays promoting the embarrassingly over-gifted Jacob Collier (you remember him – the ‘talent like no other I’ve seen before’). Jones’s stable also houses Richard Bona, singer and bassist, and pianist Alfredo Rodriguez. Conductor Jules Buckley brought along singer Laura Mvula and Hammond organist Cory Henry, best known in recent years, perhaps, for his work with Snarky Puppy. The orchestra was the Dutch Metropole Orkest.

Pity poor Jules Buckley. It was his job to sift through more than 60 years of music to put together a representative sample of Jones’s output. And it has to be said he made a wonderful job of it: the opening medley was a corker – all blaring trumpets, twangy clavinet, scuttering bongos and wacka-wacka guitar. You almost expected the bust of Sir Henry Wood to sprout a ‘fro and mirror shades. Of course, these were but samples from a few of Quincy Jones’ film scores, and later we were treated to full-length renditions of The Pawnbroker (1965) and They Call Me MISTER Tibbs (1970) – the latter rattling along like an express train with a roaring Hammond solo from Cory Henry at the controls.

Identifying highlights is not easy; it was pretty much all highlight. First half closer Soul Bossa Nova (1962), with its comedic interplay between triangle and piccolo at the top and ‘bones and tuba at the bottom, was the crowd-pleaser to end all crowd-pleasers. The inevitable Michael Jackson mash-up of Human Nature, Billie Jean and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’(all 1982) made it party time in the hallowed Hall. Instead I will just pick out three personal favourites.

First, Jacob Collier’s spellbinding In The Real Early Morning (2016), from his recently released debut album. This was an exercise in minimalism. You could hear a pin drop in the vast auditorium as this mere lad of 22 sang and played this lovely but difficult tune with a skill and sensitivity you could hardly credit. Second, Manteca (1973), an afro-cuban arrangement of an old Dizzy Gillespie tune, from which Rodriguez teased out an air of sleazy menace, rather reminiscent of Henry Mancini’s famous intro to the film Touch of Evil. Thirdly, a medley of classic funk-disco-r’n’b – Stuff Like That and the Brothers Johnson’s Stomp (both from 1978), featuring a quintet of very fine backing singers.

The greatest roar of the night came as the maestro himself appeared, stage right, to conduct the final number, Let The Good Times Roll. For yea, they had rolled mightily; this was showbiz at its very best.

Metropole Orkest – on stage for Prom 49

  Jules Buckley    

First Violins
Arlia de Ruiter (leader), Sarah Koch, Marianne Haynes, David Peijnenborgh
Henriëtte Luytjes, Jasper van Rosmalen, Merel Jonker, Seija Teeuwen
Ruben Margarita,Christina Knoll, Petra Griffioen
Second Violins
Federico Nathan, Herman van Haaren, Wim Kok,Ewa Zbyszynska,
Robert Baba, Susan Collier, Casper Donker, Polina Cekov, Coleman Willis,
Gideon Nelissen  

Norman Jansen, Mieke Honingh, Julia Jowett, Iris Schut, Isabella Petersen,
Alex Welch
Emile Visser, Annie Tangberg, Jascha Albracht, Charles Watt, Winnyfred Beldman  

Orchestral Basses
Erik Winkelmann, Arend Liefkes, Tjerk de Vos  

Joke Schonewille  

Mariël van den Bos, Janneke Groesz

Willem Luijt

Marc Scholten Paul van der Feen, Leo Janssen, Sjoerd Dijkhuizein, Max Boeree

Ray Bruinsma, Martijn de Laat, Nico Schepers, Rik Mol

Pieter Hunfeld, Wim van den Haak, Liz Hunfeld

Bart Van Lier, Martijn Sohler, Jan Bastiani

Bass trombone
Martin van den Berg

Ries Schellekens

Eddy Koopman, Frank Wardenier

Latin Percussion
Marcio Doctor

Drum Kit
Martijn Vink

Jazz Bass
Aram Kersbergen

Pieter Tiehuis

Hans Vroomans, Jasper Soffers

The Quincy Jones Prom was televised and is available on iPlayer (LINK)

Categories: miscellaneous

15 replies »

  1. It was a fabulous evening! I also enjoyed the comperes – well off the usual Promsy starchiness. A pity the BBC didn't give a bit more information about the artists – instrumental soloists from the Orkest, stunning backing singers, etc.

  2. I've been looking for a list of the musicians who took part. I couldn't find it on the Proms website. Are you aware of a full list of participants being published?

    I was particularly impressed by the drummer behind the kit.

  3. The drummer was Martijn Vink. If you buy any Metropole Orkest CD there is a always a list of personnel – many have been the MO for many years. I did detect new faces in the lineup for the Quincy Prom and I do wonder if the MO was augmented somewhat by session musicians as the band seemed somewhat bigger for the prom. Lots of regulars there though, eg Peter Tiehuis (long serving guitarist) and flautists Mariel van den Bos and Janine Abbas, Bart Van Lier (lead trombone – big glasses!)and Martin Van Den Berg (Bass Trombone) etc

    I recommend the CD that the MO did with Vince Mendoza to celebrate Joe Zawinul and the Music of Weather Report: FAST CITY.

  4. Thanks for the offer, Peter, but it's probably more trouble than it's worth – it was the drummer I was most curious about, and he's been identified by Simes!

  5. Was altogether a fantastic tribute to an insanely talented man, hats off to Sir Quincy Jones. Does anyone know the name of the quintet or individual singers please?

  6. Metropole Orkest is at its core a group of 52 musicians. There were 64 on this particular Prom. Some extra strings (including Jacob Collier's mum Susan amongst the 2nd violinists), a lation percussionist (Marcio Doctor), 2 more french horns and a tuba player (Ries Schellekens) were added. Also both parttime musicians who play piano and keys were there (Hans Vroomans and Jasper Soffers). Janine Abbas wasn't there but Simes is right on the money concerning the others. Concert master Arlia de Ruiter has been part of the orchestra for 30 years and there are several other musicians who have been with the orchestra for over 10 or 20 years. Others, like trumpeter Rik Mol, have joined in the past few years.

  7. Thanks for the additions/corrections Jolien 😉

    I've been following the MO for a few years; I think they are fantastic. I don't think there is anything they can't play! I'll take the MO over the WDR Big Band any time!

  8. Who was the male singer who did a great ballad….I think 'Nothing Stays The Same' featured in the song and Humming birds still fly, I
    would like the words for this ballad. Thank you.

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