By Dr. Valerie Wardlaw
Special to the NNPA News Wire from the Los Angeles Sentinel
What do you give Quincy Jones, a man whose life is about good music, the arts, and making the world a better place for everyone?
On November 15, attendees and Jones were treated to a tribute by some of the best musicians on the planet as The Thelonious Monk Institute awarded the Herbie Hancock Humanitarian award to the legendary Quincy Jones during its annual International Jazz Gala at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.
The award recognizes an individual or institution that has made extraordinary contributions toward the betterment of humankind.
“There is no truer humanitarian on the planet than Quincy ‘Q’ Jones,” said Herbie Hancock, chair of the Monk Institute.
“Quincy Jones has demonstrated his concern and caring for countless people worldwide through a broad range of musical, educational, and relief initiatives. I have known Q for over 50 years and there is no one more deserving of this award. For many decades now, he has continued to support, encourage, and nurture the younger generation of musical artists, and now at the age of 82, Quincy is just getting started.”
Leading the all-star tribute was a dynamic gathering of proficient musicians and hosts who were unabashedly jazz enthusiasts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patti Austin, John Beasley, George Benson, Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, James Genus, Jeff Goldblum, Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Lisa Henry, Paul Jackson, Jr., Al Jarreau, Justin Kauflin, Hubert Laws, Ledisi, Seth MacFarlane, Gretchen Parlato, Arturo Sandoval, Luciana Souza, Wayne Shorter, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Ben Williams, and Billy Dee Williams. They were backed by an all-star gala big band, which included Mike Cottone, Jason Goldman, Kenya Hathaway, Steve Hughes, Danny Janklow, Josh Johnson, Wendell Kelly, Bryan Lipps, Bob Sheppard, Francisco Torres, Bijon Watson, and Dontae Winslow.
In accepting the award, Jones proclaimed himself as “the happiest man on the planet.” Jones–ever the advocate urged those in attendance to continue supporting the arts and to push the envelope.
“Can you imagine that we are one of the only countries without a minister of culture?” he said while addressing the crowd. “Jazz is the heart and soul of music. It’s at the center of everything I have ever done. We must push the boundaries to ensure that the arts remain a part of our daily lives. You cannot get an ‘A’ if you are afraid to get an ‘F,’” Jones said.
The night included fantastic performances from the three finalists of the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocal Competition. Jazzmeia Horn, 23, of Dallas, TX won the prestigious competition in 2015. Ms. Horn, a previous winner of the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition, performed jazz standards “Moanin” and “Detour Ahead.”
Backed by a stellar house band that included Reggie Thomas on piano, Rodney Whitaker on bass and Carl Allen on drums, the performers were selected from 11 semi-finalists and performed before a three-judge panel that included musicians Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Freddy Cole, Al Jarreau, and Luciana Souza. The runners-up were Veronica Swift of Charlottesville, Va., and Vuyolwethu Sotashe of Mthata, South Africa. Horn received a $25,000 music scholarship and a recording contract with the Concord Music Group.
For more information on the Thelonious Monk Institute, visit monkinstitute.org.