Quincy Jones: A Really Good 'Dude'

Quincy Jones in 1981
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Bobby Holland/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Where does one begin when one wants to celebrate the work of Quincy Jones? Born March 14, 1933 in Chicago, Jones’ seven-decade career in music spans the realms of jazz, pop, R&B, funk, hip-hop, swing and hip-hop. He’s been a conductor, arranger, producer, songwriter and performer, and he’s worked with the giants in all genres, from Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Miles Davis and more.

We’d like to celebrate one of Jones’ most popular albums – 1981’s The Dude. Nominated for 12 Grammy Awards, the record wound up winning three of them, and in the process introducing the world to one of the great voices of the next decade.

That voice belonged to James Ingram, who sang three songs on the album and wound up receiving a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist for his efforts. The first time many listeners heard that voice was when he sang the song “Just Once,” a track composed by the longtime songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Who can forget the classic opening lines, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough / ‘Cause here we are back where we were before,” or the voice that delivered them?

Read More: Keep the Music Playing: James Ingram's Best Songs

“Just Once” hit the Top 20, as did another of Ingram’s vocal contributions to The Dude, “One Hundred Ways.”

The Dude displayed the full breadth of Quincy Jones’ interests and talents, not only on the pop material that made the charts, but also the jazz and jazz-inflected songs on the record. The instrumental “Velas” features harmonica master Toots Thielemans in a masterful arrangement, and the ballad “Something Special” shows off the versatile Patti Austin in a jazzy setting.

Jones was also in tune with what got people on the dance floor (an intuition he used to great effect producing Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall). "Ai No Corrida," the first single off The Dude, is a floor-filler akin to the Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp!” and Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Do You Love What You Feel” (two other Jones productions).

Read More: Five Reasons Chaka Khan Should Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Dude is a stone-cold classic and a standout in the miles-long discography of the great Quincy Jones.

 

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(Michael Putland/Getty Images)
The timeless classic peaked at #8 on the Hot 100.
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
With a little help from the legends in Chic.
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Atlantic Records
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