Saturday, October 30, 2010

Barnes & Noble Seattle


The first time I saw one of my books in a large chain book store, I have to admit it was a rush. To be in Barnes & Noble, Borders, or any of the largest resellers—or even Guitar Center for that matter— just felt different than seeing them in a local music store or online.

Sometime in the late '90s I was in Nashville mixing an album at The Sound Kitchen for The Coats. We had gone out for lunch and, while waiting for the other guys, a couple of us had wandered across the way to Barnes & Noble and there in the music section I saw several copies of the The AudioPro Home Recording Course (the first series I did for MixBooks). That was fun, too.

Last Friday my wife and I were hanging out in downtown Seattle shopping and eating and such. We wandered into Barnes & Noble and there it was! "Q on Producing" facing forward and everything—I think there might have even been a little glow around the edges or a shimmer or something! Fun!

For me, writing books is a lot like producing an album. There's an amazing amount of sweat and toil and countless hours of thought and re-thought and writing and re-writing; however, the payoff is when it's completed and I'm holding the final product in my hand. Then to see it on the shelves of major book and trade stores and everywhere online continues the payoff.

"Q on Producing" has been a different experience, though. I doubt that there has been a second throughout the process of helping Quincy with this book that I haven't taken its importance incredibly seriously. What Quincy has discovered in his life and music needs to be shared! His knowledge of music is vast. Just read about his traditional and non-traditional training and you'll see how deep his musical well runs. Then observe his ways with people—in the studio, in life, and around the world—and you'll see the depths of his compassion, care, and love for virtually everyone. It's worth noting again and again that the mindset and methods we hear from Quincy Jones throughout "Q on Producing"are a recipe for success in virtually any endeavor.

I could go on and on about Quincy and what a fantastic experience helping him with this book has been, but back to my point in paragraph one, it was fun to see his book in Barnes & Noble a few days before the official release date. In the last week or so, it was also released on Amazon and all the other online suppliers and has consistently been in the top 100 of several categories even before the marketing gets in full force. Fun!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bill Gibson Music Blog: We're In!

Bill Gibson Music Blog: We're In!: "It's taken a while to get to the point where Quincy walks in the room. So, everyone is there except Quincy and his business manager, Adam...."

We're In!


It's taken a while to get to the point where Quincy walks in the room.

So, everyone is there except Quincy and his business manager, Adam. When Quincy came into the room everyone's level instantly raised a few dB. Each of us was, after all, there to meet with Quincy so you might expect this reaction but, literally over and over, this is the type of response I've witnessed. The same thing happens with Greg Phillinganes, Siedah Garrett, JR, Paul Jackson, Jr.--everybody really--and they've known and worked with him since the '80s. Quincy's personality never demands respect but his reputation deserves it. Clarence Acox from Garfield High School put it very well when he said, "Quincy gets a lot of respect because he gives a lot of respect."

There's a component in Quincy Jones that could be described as love or care or just genuine interest in others, but he tends to draw the best out of the people with whom he associates and works. Virtually everyone I've talked with about Q have said the same thing, "When Quincy comes into the studio everyone gives their very best performance!"

Some people have tried to marginalize Quincy, saying that, of course he does great work because he works with the very best people. You know what...that's BS! Quincy produced Off the Wall and Thriller and Bad and Back on the Block, and on and on using the same players and studios that were available to every other producer. There is something special about his approach that inspires and motivates. His style is not to demean and belittle musicians until they do it his way--there are no tantrums in a Quincy Jones session. His style is to provide an atmosphere for greatness to occur; to provide a structure that is at the same time firm and fluid; to uncover the greatness that lies within the souls of his musicians; to conduct hearts not instruments; to, on one hand, know exactly what he wants and, on the other hand, to be open to what he never imagined.

So, anyway, now we're in Quincy's livingroom and ready begin a dialogue that might end in an hour or that might last a lifetime...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rappers Asking for Help

On our first meeting, we waited for a bit until we could see Quincy. Later, he told me that it was because he was working with a VERY high-profile rapper (for some reason I'm feeling I shouldn't mention his name) who is one of many rappers coming to him for help. The rap community is going through a growth stage that's probably happened in every genre where they feel the urge to get better at the music they're providing. They've been sharing that they're convinced they can make money but they want Quincy to help them raise the bar musically! And he's doing it. He's helping them see the importance of learning their musical language and studying their craft. His words are particular powerful with the rap community especially considering the important role he played in bringing rap music into the mainstream.

Quincy is a natural-born mentor and he has the creative horsepower to back up what he says. Most people don't know that he studied music very seriously and was mentored by some of the best musicians ever. Besides learning from the likes of Count Basie, Clark Terry, Duke Ellington, and Lionel Hampton, he studied arranging and composition with Nadia Boulange in Paris—she was the conductor/arranger/composer that taught Stravinsky, Aaron, Copeland, and many more iconic traditional musicians. He studied with her multiple times a week for nearly five years! That's amazing! So it will be very interesting to see how he transfers his passion for excellence and education to the rap and hip-hop scene.


These are the 24-track master tapes for Back on the Block, the album was likely the most influential in bringing rap to a wide-ranging audience.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The First Meeting - Part 2


As we entered Quincy's home a few things became instantly apparent:
  • Wow, what a fantastic place! (Sorry, just had to get that one out)
  • Quincy is very enamored with art from around the world
  • There is amazing attention to detail and balance everywhere
  • Even though huge, his place feels very warm and comfortable. It is intimate in its expanse.
  • Legends hang with legends.
Although, everyone has told me that Quincy is as caring and loving to the gardener as the Pope—I am a witness to his consistent kindness to everyone—his accomplishments and humanitarian activities keep him hanging with world leaders. Pictures from and with Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell are intermixed effortlessly with Bono, Barbra Streisand, MJ, and Miles. And when asked, Quincy has a great story for ever one of them. It becomes instantly clear that these images are not trophies, they're markers for relationships with people he has grown to love—people he stands with in support of their life's mission. He is in love with people and most conversation about high profile leaders morph into his effort to help hurting and struggling people around the world.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The First Meeting with Quincy

Part 1

This meeting was much anticipated and was really quite an exciting event. It was fun to get Quincy's address in Bel Air and look it up on Google Maps. It was amazing to see this incredibly impressive piece of prime land right in the middle of some of the most prime real estate on the planet. I wasn't sure whether I should expect a dated house on a nice piece of land or what, to tell you the truth. I've driven through Bel Air before and some of the places look to have had their prime in the '70s. Quincy's estate is gated so Street View on Google didn't do any good.

In putting the book together, I had developed a table of contents that really provided the vision for what the finished product would look like. Quincy had received the TOC and was interested enough for us to move forward and meet. Although we had a pretty good idea of how this was all going to come together, everything really hinged on whether or not our team was able to work with his team and whether or not he thought that he could work with me on such an important project.

The night before our meeting, I flew from Seatte to meet my Executive Editor, Mike Lawson (from Nashville) and the Group Publisher for Hal Leonard Publishing, John Cerullo (from New York) in Hollywood. We agreed to meet earlier in the day before the meeting and make sure we knew where Quincy's place was located. Then we hung out at a Starbucks until it was time to head up to the top of Bel Air for the meeting.

Driving up to Quincy's gate, it became obvious that his place was new contruction and really very incredible. His view of Hollywood and LA is unparalleled and the house is full of some of the most incredible art from around the world and priceless historical music industry treasures. His house is an amazing musical and humanitarian ride. Pictures of Quincy with Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton or Frank Sinatra or Bono or Michael Jackson or Miles Davis or Barbra Streisand or Colin Powell or ...the list goes on and on...are everywhere. Everything is tastefully framed and impecably displayed.

We were met by Quincy's security staff and escorted down to the pool room (as in swimming pool). This is actually a very comfortable room and is frequently seen in Quincy's interviews because it has a comfortable couch and chairs in front of a large plaque containing 50 Platinum Records for Thriller. It's a pretty impressive backdrop and immediately makes the statement, "You are in the home of an all-time musical giant!"

How the Quincy Jones Deal Came About

I was at the NAMM Show in Anaheim two years ago and, as always, I headed straight to the Hal Leonard booth to check in and say hi to all the folks I work with throughout the year. I got over the glamor of the big show a long time ago and some of my visits have consisted of walking in and saying hello to a very few industry friends and then heading directly back to Seattle on the same day.

I walked in to meet with my Executive editor, Mike Lawson, and he said, "Quincy Jones's people are here and they want to talk about doing a Legacy Series. They want Hal Leonard to publish it. Then he said the magic words, "We'd like you to write it. Can you come back at 2:00 for the meeting." Uhh...yes...I think I could make that happen, Mike.

So, a few of Quincy's team and a few of the Hal Leonard team sat in an isolated room on the tradeshow floor and talked through what would end up to be the beginnings of The Quincy Jones Legacy Series.

It took about six months, or more, to get all the contracts together and to frame the deal. The final step was to meet with Quincy and make sure that all the cards were on the table and that all of the key players had met and were in agreement about the focus of the project. That meeting will be the focus of my next couple posts.

What is the Quincy Jones Book Really About?


The first questions I tend get, when Q on Producing comes up in conversation, are about the contents and what is covered in the book. Here's the official description. More later...

Series: Book
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Format: Hardcover with DVD
Author : Bill Gibson
Author : Quincy Jones

The first entry in a multivolume set that will be essential reading for aspiring producers and artists everywhere, Q on Producing presents the master's approach to making music. Told to and compiled by author and audio expert Bill Gibson, Quincy's observations, culled from over a year of in-depth interviews, are collected and presented in book form and on an accompanying DVD-ROM, providing an unparalleled course of instruction from one of the true legends of American music.

Reaching back to his early successes, Quincy discusses the techniques learned as an arranger for such legendary performers as Count Basie and Ray Charles, as a touring bandleader, and as a young producer with his first pop successes. Coauthor Gibson, in chapters such as “Discovering Talent,” “The Producer/Engineer Relationship,” and “Tools for Success,” outlines the many skills Quincy developed and broadened as he graduated to film and TV work, his solo recordings, and his game-changing albums with Michael Jackson, as well as more recent productions.

With invaluable advice on subjects such as songwriting, scoring, and the modern music business – to be expanded on in subsequent volumes – Q on Producing provides the foundation for what is sure to be the most anticipated series of tutorials on music production ever created.


Inventory #HL 00332755
ISBN: 9781423459767
UPC: 884088265212
Width: 8.75"
Length: 11.25"
302 pages

Quincy Jones Book Releasing Nov. 1


Man, this has been a long and incredible road. When I was asked to work on Q on Producing by my publishers, I couldn't have said yes any faster! I grew up in the music business and I was always very aware that Quincy was definitely one of the guys leading the pack. His songs were always a notch above, his arrangements were always tasty and extremely well-written. His chord changes were most interesting, and he always worked with the best people. I remember thinking at one point how incredible it was that there was a musician whose albums were about the songs and the singers more than they were about showcasing his showbiz persona. It always seemed ideal that a producer would simply find the best music and put it together with the best singers and instrumentalists and then just steer everyone to such greatness.

To say the least, working on this book with Quincy has been amazing. He places high value on the character of the people he works with. His premise is that, you'll never be better as a musician than you are as a person--I believe that to be absolutely true. In my dealings with his musical family, I've seen that he has built a team that functions like a well-oiled machine, largely because they've been together for a while and they are some of the most sincere and likable folks you could find.

So, the book releases at AES in San Francisco in a couple weeks (AES is from Nov. 4 - Nov. 8). I'll be posting more about the process of writing with Q. I'll try to make these brief enough that I don't run, screaming like a little school girl, way from the thought of writing more, and so that you can have them in bite-sized chunks.