Quincy Jones is a living legend. His music has influenced generations creating masterpieces with every one from Count Basie to Michael Jackson. Now, a new group of current artists like Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx, L.L. Cool J, Jennifer Hudson and John Legend are paying tribute to the maestro on a new album, “Q: Soul Bossa Nostra,” available in stores and online today. ESSENCE.com sat down to talk with Mr. Jones about working with the great vocalists of our time, what he thinks about electronic music, and his philosophy for life… ESSENCE.com: What was your inspiration for this album? QUINCY JONES: It wasn’t my inspiration it was Timbaland’s. I saw him in South Beach and he said he wanted to do a hip-hop tribute to my songs and I said ‘beautiful.’ I was very honored. I’m not going to do a tribute to myself. All my friends came in, it’s like family: Snoop Dogg, Usher, Robin Thicke, Ludicris, even Jennifer Hudson. She had that tragedy happen to her family and I called her up for condolences and she said, ‘I need to be on your album.’ I said ‘I would never bother you.’ And she said, ‘Quincy you don’t understand, I need to be on the album.’ And she sang ‘You Got a Move on My Heart.’ ESSENCE.com: How does it feel to have all these artists pay tribute to your incredible music? JONES: It feels great — it really does. “Soul Bossa Nova” I wrote in 20 minutes in 1962, after we came back from Brazil with Dizzy Gillespie, when I first heard Bossa Nova, which means new wave, and was also influenced by jazz. Then 30 years later, here comes Mike Myers with the theme for ‘Austin Powers’ for all three movies. And now Ludacris is doing ‘Soul Bossa Nostra.’ He put a little gangster thing in there — you feel a little drama. (laughs) It’s been fun. It really has. ESSENCE.com: There is a diverse mix of artists on the album. What was that like? JONES: I’ve known Snoop Dog forever. He looks young, but I’ve known him since before electricity. (laughs) I love Snoop Dog, man. Him, B.o.B. and all the young dogs. Usher, BeBe Winans, it’s amazing. Talib Kweli all these talented kids. I’ve never experienced this before. Because I always produced my own stuff, you know. I just said do your own thing on it, just try and make it better than the original. That is the way it’s supposed to be, you know. It’s beautiful man. It’s three to four generations away. That was the exciting part about it. ESSENCE.com: What do you think about all the electronic music today? JONES: If you don’t do your homework and study your science properly and don’t know your core skills, you are working for the machine. But if you know your music, the machine works for you. And that is what technology is about. This goes back to drum machines, synthesizers, and the first Fender bass in 1953. I was the first one to ever use a synthesizer that the public heard on [the theme for the TV show] ‘Ironside.’ So it’s interesting to have been there at the birthplace of all this high-tech stuff and now see it take over the human parts of it. ESSENCE.com: Who is your favorite vocalist of all time? JONES: Wait a minute now… you mean out of Billie Holiday, Ella [Fitzgerald], Sarah [Vaughan], Ray Charles, and Aretha?!? You crazy? (laughs) Nina Simone. You kidding? Even B.B. King. I worked with Sarah Vaughan, I worked with everybody. It’s like picking one of your favorite children. I love all my children. And they’re so different, you know. They had more individuality. I worked with everybody. It’s interesting to see what’s going on but most of all to still be around and be healthy, 60 years into the business. That’s a long time, man. ESSENCE.com: What is your philosophy for life? Jones: My noble doctors are sweet to say the secret to life is love, laugh, live and give. And that is the way I’ve been doing my life the whole time. And it’s the best feeling in the world.
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