Quintessence – Quincy Jones, 1962
Quintessence seems like the perfect inaugural Track of the Week for obvious reasons.
I came across this track quite a few years back when I was part of jazz duo and we were flicking through one of the Fake Books. Admittedly I didn’t know a huge amount about Quincy Jones at the time so can’t pretend that it wasn’t the name that attracted me to giving it a go. As it turns out it just happens to be a fantastic saxophone piece that I’ve loved ever since.
For my money, it strikes the perfect balance between a beautiful, soulful melody and enough improvisation to show off some serious talent. Throw in a few orchestral blasts along the way and that “wah” sound he does (with his hand?) at the end and this might just be my perfect instrumental jazz track.
I can’t pretend to have got anywhere close to replicating Quincy’s timbre, speed, elegance or skill in my renditions but even just playing the melody with the odd embellishment here and there was satisfying in itself.
I love this type of progression in instrumentals; the first time around playing the melody without straying too far from the written notes. As you progress through the phrases and the repeats you gradually and subtly improvise further and further away, building the complexity and the intensity before suddenly bringing the listener right back into the main melody to close.
In fact, I like it so much I’ll post up another example as next week’s Track of the Week from an entirely unrelated artist, genre and instrument.