Quincy Jones has been at or near the centre of black music since the '40s, as player, composer, arranger and producer: hence 'Lives'. He has also had rather a hard time. Unfortunately, this film biography, though laudatory, looks like one more cross to bear. To give Weissbrod her due, she has collected some astonishing material: home movies, newsreels, low-grade video, interviews (Ray Charles, Miles, Dizzy, Sinatra, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson and many more), and masses of still photographs, handwritten scores and printed material. But the way she has assembled the film is deplorable. Weissbrod edits with crass brutality, presumably following a half-baked analogy with musical styles and techniques. Interviewees, seldom allowed whole phrases, let alone intelligible ideas, are made to speak simultaneously. No one is captioned until the end, an utterly elitist device. More damagingly, music barely gets a look in (plenty of sounds, but no completed musical statements). A little humility (R.E.S.P.E.C.T., even) in the presence of great artistry might have been in order.
Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones
Cast and crew