The Quincy Jones ABC/Mercury Big Band Jazz Sessions (#237)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


The Quincy Jones ABC/Mercury Big Band Jazz Sessions (#237)
"Musicians are quick to recognize pretentions or falsehoods, but such attributes are never mentioned in Quincy’s connection. Only admiration, and a certain amazement as to what he achieved, are the standard reactions." - Brian Priestley, liner notes

This set is Running Low
Limited Edition: 7500 copies

5 CDs -  $85.00


Nothing About The Project Made Sense - Except The Music!

It didn't make sense economically, didn't make sense logistically, didn't provide ego satisfaction for star players, but Quincy Jones formed a big band. For the sheer sake of the music.

And because of their love for Quincy, an exceptional group of musicians signed on for the "tour," some of them literally traipsing all over Europe to find venues that could house them and bandstands that could squeeze them all in. There was never any problem finding audiences eager to hear what Quincy was thinking, or what musicians like Art Farmer, Zoot Sims, Curtis Fuller, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Art Blakey, and Hank Jones were blowing. And listeners today will discover just the same joy.

The set includes all of his 1959-60 studio and 1961 live Mercury sessions, as well as an earlier set from 1956 for ABC-Paramount and a 1961 date for Impulse. The 1956 date for an ABC-Paramount release was a masterpiece of arranging and band leading. You hear him creating his new sound in what is the core of the set, the 1959-60 studio recording that comprised Quincy's "The Birth of a Band" release and later sessions. The final dates were a reunion of sorts, for a tour in Europe and a performance at Newport and an expanded orchestra for a studio session on Impulse. Even though recordings spanned a number of years, from New York to Zurich to Paris to Newport and back to New York, we were able to track down every original tape master.

In writing for the big band, Quincy concealed a great deal of harmonic and rhythmic complexity in his charts. He really was reinventing big band music for a new decade and a new generation of listeners. His pieces sounded youthful and vibrant, and could be technically demanding almost beyond belief; more the writing you'd expect a five-piece band to conquer, not one comprising 17 or 18 or 20 musicians. But his bands rose to the challenge, showing there is great swing in precision, and a way of creating excitement by playing both loose and tight at the same time.

The over-brimming talent of Quincy Jones was recognized early. Raised in Seattle, Quincy first began to study trumpet as a teen, and within a few years was performing, touring and recording. He also quickly took to arranging, creating charts for Oscar Pettiford, Art Farmer, Tommy Dorsey, and Count Basie, among others, just six or seven years after taking up the horn. Work as a music director, producer, and conductor came soon after and he would become a record company executive at a time when black musicians didn't get those opportunities.

The set includes an essay by Brian Priestley and a complete discography, as well as many rare photographs by Chuck Stewart. But what it mostly contains is a fountain of youthfulness, in an unlikely, illogical, unprecedented and entirely delightful way that could only belong to Quincy Jones.

Read More About Quincy Jones:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Pianist and jazz critic Brian Priestly is the author of several volumes of outstanding jazz scholarship include Mingus: A Critical Biography, Chasin’ The Bird: The Life And Legacy Of Charlie Parker and Jazz On Record: A History. For this set, he thoroughly traced the formation, financial travails and dissolution of the big band that Quincy Jones formed against all odds in 1958 and details every session beautifully and informatively.

The music in this set was recorded at two live concerts, a Paris studio and most of the top studios in New York City. Despite the variety of locations, we were fortunate to find the pure, original tapes in every single instance and transfer them to 24-bit without losing detail, warmth or brilliance.

Photo Copyright © Protected
Quincy Jones
Master jazz photographer Chuck Stewart provided all the photographs for this booklet, capturing the band in the studio and on stage.

The ABC/Iimpulse Sessions
(A1/A2) September 14 & 19, 1956

This may be the masterpiece of the entire box and, if I ever feel critical of the directions taken by Jones (or producer Creed Taylor), I only have to remember this album and all is forgiven. Its three line-ups brought together a number of Quincy’s previous associates with relatively new acquaintances, every single one of them with the exception of Paul Chambers being senior to the 23-year-old bandleader but all bending their abilities to his metaphorical baton.

Jones noted that Zoot Sims “came all the way from Washington, D.C.” for Evening In Paris, and he soon became an ABC-Paramount signing, as were Billy Taylor, Urbie Green and Lucky Thompson. Many participants had to be borrowed from other labels but, while Mingus appeared “through courtesy of Atlantic Records”, Milt Jackson was too valuable to them and became “Brother Soul” in the album credits. What’s most striking, apart from Sims’ solo, is the introduction for alto-flute, bass, piano and vibes. The use of horns is discreet behind Sims and Farmer, who wasn’t on the 1953 Paris recording but did a 1954 remake under his own name.

On Cannonball Adderley’s Sermonette, the horns again are barely used, but the churchy groove of the two-beat rhythm-section is complemented by the hymn-like harmonies and strong written bottom-line behind Gene Quill’s solo. Farmer, Thompson and Jackson are the other soloists and, while the latter’s nom-de-mallets encouraged some to think the handclapper is also pseudonymous, I believe this is the real Father John Crowley, a Catholic priest who in 1965 supported Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama.

Billy Taylor plays the intro to A Sleepin’ Bee from House Of Flowers by Harold Arlen and Truman Capote (each of whom recurs in the Jones story, Arlen thanks to Free And Easy and Capote through the movie In Cold Blood, representing Quincy’s Hollywood breakthrough). The arranger described the first six bars, where “I tried to get an improvised sound with the flute and bass interplay by alternating one bar ad libbed with one bar written.” A soon-to-be-clichéd trumpet-with-flute-and-piano sound is followed by brief contrapuntal touches in bars 7-8 and 15 (i.e. 0:23 and 0:37). Phil Woods’ first contribution to the album contrasts with Farmer, once again in mute, while Mingus’s solo has a subtle quote from “Would You Like To Take A Walk?” before he’s joined by Herbie Mann to lead back to the theme.

Boo’s Blues is the first instance of a theme actually presented by the full 9-piece line-up. Observe especially the horn voicings now called “quartal” by educators, which Jones had been working on in his recordings with Dizzy (e.g. “Jessica’s Day”) and, before that, with James Moody and Dinah Washington. The sounds behind Woods’ first chorus also predict “modal” settings of a few years later, while the churchy but spacious harmonies behind Farmer are more reminiscent of Sermonette. A brilliant example of Mingus’s “talking bass” is the last solo before restatement of the theme.


Click here to write a review

  Newly Discovered Masterpiece
I was in Korea and Japan when this was first released and didnt know Quincy Jones had put a big band together. I listened to your clips from the set and decided I needed to add it to my collection. The first CD sent shivers up my spine and the sheer beauty of the music actually brought tears to my eyes. I recommend that you have no conversations or other distractions at first listening, just immerse yourself in this gorgeous music. This set hit me like a bolt of lightning. Thank you so much for releasing it. Bob Miller
  Great Music
When I first saw this set advertised on the site, I actually laughed. I only knew Q from the "bad" pop albums he produced & the very cheesy 60's era records he made. Once I read about the set & noticed who the sidemen were, I changed my mind & gave the set a shot. Boy, I'm sure glad I did. This is some of the finest music I've ever heard.
  Great Big Band Jazz
Great Big Band Jazz Just received this boxed set yesterday, and the music is highly creative with GREAT remastering. I've wanted this set for a long time, great sidemen and tunes. But the sound samples Mosaic provides on the website are not very representative of what you get in the set. The real thing is MUCH BETTER!!!. I guess there is nothing like sitting down with the tunes cranked while reading the wonderful booklet. Great Job on this one. Sidenote: I'm wondering why there are so few reviews, because the set that I got was numbered 2,500+...?
  Quincy Jones ABC/Mercury Big Band Jazz Sessions.
Well Michael you have done it again another great set have played it several since receiving it,Big Bands don't play like that any more what a pity.Now in my seventies I can.Many thanks for reminding us, keep up the good work. Brian Gymer Australia.
  This Great Music Never Sounded Better
Thanks to Mosaic's outstanding remastering, these wonderful recordings finally sound as good as the day they were made. Quincy's band swings hard and has the perfect light touch when needed. Make sure to click on the link to the discography and check out just who played on these sessions. Wowzer!
  Simply Wonderful
Excellent music and great big band sound. Can't take this off the CD player. Thanks for sharing, as I never knew about Q's big band music before this set.

The Quincy Jones ABC/Mercury Big Band Jazz Sessions (#237)
The Quincy Jones ABC/Mercury Big Band Jazz Sessions (#237)
Limited Edition: 7500 copies
5 CDs - $85.00

Customer Reviews:

"Excellent music and great big band sound. Can't take this off the CD player. Thanks for sharing, as I never knew about Q's big band music before this set."
Read More Reviews »

Mosaic Podcast

Legendary composer and educator, David Baker, reflects on his experiences working in the Quincy Jones Orchestra, offering an inside look at Quincy's life and music.

 Listen | Download

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