This latest Quincy Jones Opus, Q: Soul Bossa Nostra, has missed a few notes and pales miserably when compared to previous projects of the iconic composer and arranger. If you are looking for a seamless journey down memory lane and through those times where Jones has etched his indelible mark, then this Quincy Jones project is not a good pick. Q: Soul Bossa Nostra fails to weave the same magic that has been the trademark of past Jones masterpieces.
This guest-laden Jones project is a musical collage of contrasting styles and characters running the entire gamut of R&B, pop, and hip-hop. Jones is formally introduced as the executive producer of the project. This means that those musical excesses in the album may not be directly associated to him, thankfully. It is safe to assume that Jones may not have gotten enough opportunities to conduct or arrange for this particular project. To put it succinctly, Q: Soul Bossa Nostra is more of a collaboration of known musical artists than a showcase of Quincy Jones’ musical genius. The treat will be on the vocal performance and the instrumental aspect will just have to take the backseat.
Sure, you can still get the usual doses of synthesizer scrawls and electro-beats, but these are not the core elements of this album. These elements will have to give way to the showcase of raw and disparate talent of guest-performers. The opening track, “Ironside,” could well be a good indication of what this Jones album has to offer. This Talib Kweli song is a seamless fusion of modern and retro pieces, albeit the presence of palpable incongruity in the sound mixes. Bass, bongos, and horns fall in their proper places, but the crescendo of excitement is somewhat fleeting. Other tracks “Like Secret Garden” and “Give Me the Night” are at best sugar-coated musical treats and the downward spiral reaches its climax in “Put a Move on My Heart,” which may sound a bit repugnant to some music lovers. As if these are not enough, the track “Many Rains Ago” can’t seem to make a perfect blend of its rhyme and musical backing. If there is one bright spot in this Quincy Jones Project then it has got to be “Get the Funk Out of My Face,” which I find delightfully funky, sans the cussing.
The Amy Winehouse contribution – “It’s My Party” – shows how things could have been better for this album. Taking a completely different tact, the project could have scored brownie points with those retro-soul elements. I guess a mix of talents of the likes of Aloe Blacc, Jamie Lidell, Lee Fields, Charles Bradley, and Sharon Jones could have turned in better results.