Preview: Quincy Jones

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Although he turned 83 this week, 27-time Grammy winner Quincy Jones shows no signs of slowing down. From his start as a sideman with Lionel Hampton at age 19, through his groundbreaking work in television, film, and production with artists such as Michael Jackson, Q has had an enormous influence over the entire entrainment industry.

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[Photo caption: Quincy Jones with Jacob Collier (left) and Alfredo Rodriguez (right). Photo credit: © 2016 Juan Patino Photography]

In our May 2016 issue, Stephen Fortner talks with Quincy about his career, his mentorship of Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and YouTube sensation Jacob Collier, and his latest endeavor, Playground Sessions, an online learning platform for the piano keyboard.

In this interview excerpt, Q describes his initial encounters with the synthesizer as a composer and orchestrator:

"I loved them! To me, they were just one more type of instrument to add to the orchestration. They didn't replace anything, which I know a lot of musicians worried about. I just saw them as an addition to the sound. You know, when Dr. Moog first came out with his synths, he asked me, ‘Why aren't more African-American musicians playing the synthesizer?’ I said, ‘It’s great that you can sculpt this electrical signal into a sound. It’s great that you have a sine wave for a pure tone, and a sawtooth for something more raw. But Bob, it doesn’t bend, and that's why we're not playing it more. If it doesn’t bend, you can’t get funky!’ He invented a pitch-bender, and after that, musicians like Stevie Wonder, who was working right next to me back then, embraced the synthesizer and started recording hits. But again, I want to emphasize that the Fender electric bass and the synthesizer were really trademarks of the new wave of music at the time."