Years ago I read a memorable message on a music forum—a man stated that the way he always tests out a new car stereo system is by playing Quincy Jones's “Ai No Corrida.” That irresistible, danceable track resides on Jones's 1981 album, The Dude, his greatest commercial success outside his work with Michael Jackson. The Dude scored spawned several hits, including the classic ballads “One Hundred Ways” and “Just Once,” both featuring James Ingram; the aforementioned “Ai No Corrida;” and the club-friendly single “Razzamatazz,” spotlighting Patti Austin. Jones's work reached number 3 on Billboard's R&B and jazz charts, and eventually garnered several Grammy Awards for “Ai No Corrida,” “One Hundred Ways,” “Velas,” and the title track.
Granted, The Dude hardly qualifies as a hidden gem, although Jones eventually superseded his success by producing and arranging the monster hit Thriller. What I am suggesting, though, is a fresh approach to the album from a sonic perspective; Jones's producing and arranging skills are front and center on The Dude, and listening to its tracks provides a thorough education on his considerable talent. If producers and arrangers modeled their work on that of Jones, many songs and albums would be more richly textured.
What is the best way to enjoy this jazz and R&B fusion album? First, obtain the best copy you possibly can; buy the MP3 version if you must, but the sonic layers of the album may require the vinyl or CD version to fully appreciate them. Next, put on a pair of headphones, preferably an over-the-ear pair instead of ear buds. Then plunge yourself into Jones's pool of sound, particularly noting the various kinds of instrumentation present in every song.
The Latin-influenced “Ai No Corrida,” as the previously mentioned gentleman in the music forum pointed out, is a perfect example of such sound immersion. Jazz legend Herbie Hancock's keyboard fills cushion the tune, while the funky horns punctuate the chorus. The driving percussion, led by the legendary Paulinho DaCosta, is accented by echoing hand-claps and scatting (particularly in the bridge), enticing the listener to dance. The vocals are richly superimposed, with two sets of choruses interacting at one point. While many elements comprise this uptempo track, Jones's superb arrangement prevents the song from becoming too busy and overwhelming.