The 64th Grammy awards are just a few weeks away, back post-COVID restrictions. The awards will be in Las Vegas on April 3, 202264th Annual GRAMMY Awards | 2021 | GRAMMY.com. I thought it would be taking a look back at an often-overlooked gem, Quincy Jones 1969 album, “Walking In Space” which won a GRAMMY 52-years ago. Today, March 14th is Q’s birthday!
While Jones had spent much of the sixties focusing on movie soundtracks, “Walking In Space”, a collaboration with Creed Taylor, Jerry Moss and Herb Alpert but him both back into the freedom of jazz music and with an opportunity to innovate, Quincy Jones delivered in a big way.
This post is about the album, the Grammy awards that year, and some of the other remarkable things Quincy did around that time with input from from Doug Payne, Russell Clarke, and Morgan Ames. Quincy Jones output between 1968 and 1972 was simply phenomenal both in quality and quantity and here, as always, we have some additional context for that period.
“Walking In Space” put Quincy back in the jazz charts, making #2 in the Billboard Jazz Chart, and #6 in the Billboard R&B chart, and Astronaut Buzz Aldrin played Quincy’s arrangement of “Fly Me To The Moon” when landing Apollo 11 on the moonThe Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey & Passions – Quincy Jones – 2008, ISBN 978-1-933784-67-0.
12th Grammy Awards
The album won the GRAMMY for “Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Large Group Or Soloist With Large Group” at the 12th Grammy awards, recognizing performances in 1969, awarded on March 11th, 1970Quincy Jones | Artist | GRAMMY.com.
The 12th Grammys were the last that followed the original format, of a number of shows across the country. With the growth in attention, the awards had continued to suffer from errors and mistakes like when Allan Sherman almost missed announcing the Getz/Gilberto album of the yearOn This Day: The GETZ / GILBERTO Grammys – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com). The 12th Grammys were the last not to be shown live from a single location as they are today.
That year, the awards are generally remembered for two things, one Bob Newhart wore a green tuxedo, and when introducing Johnny Cash for “Best Country Song” joked “I’m a little worried what historians are going to think of us when they discover one of the biggest songs of my era was entitled ‘A Boy Named Sue.’”
The 12th awards are also remembered for the strangely eerie sight of Peggy Lee, broadcast live from the Waldorf Astoria ballroom in New York City. Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” which had already won the award for “Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Female” was a nominee for “Record Of The Year“. As was the thing by 1969, many of the nominees would perform “live”. The show cut to Lee in New York, with her song playing; Lee was standing completely alone and clearly not singing the same verse.
Quincy Jones wasn’t new to the Grammys by 1970, he won his first GRAMMY for an arrangement of “I can’t Stop Loving You” in 1965 as well as numerous other nominations.
Walking in space
As well as the award for best jazz performance, “Walking In Space” was also nominated for “Best Instrumental Arrangement“. Quincy jones, he was also nominated for “Best Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special” for his work on the Poitier movie “The Lost Man” which co-starred Leon Bibb, who I’m still researching. Also nominated that year by Quincy Jones was “McKennas Gold”Mackenna’s Gold (1969) – Full Cast & Crew – IMDb, while this was a good western soundtrack, to accompany Carl Foreman’s film, it didn’t really stretch Quincy Jones artistically.
Issues: A&M SP 3023, A&M SP-9-3023
Master No.: SP-3045/SP-3046
A1 Dead End – 4:05
Written-By – Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni, James Rado
A2 Walking In Space – 12:00
Written-By – Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni, James Rado
Flute [Solo] – Hubert Laws; Tenor Saxophone [Solo] – Roland Kirk; Trombone [Solo] – Jimmy Cleveland; Trumpet [Solo] – Freddie Hubbard; Vocals [Solo] – Valerie Simpson
B1 Killer Joe – 5:08
Written-By – Benny Golson
B2 Love And Peace – 5:45
Written-By – Arthur Adams
Electric Bass – Chuck Rainey; Tenor Saxophone [Solo] – Hubert Laws
B3 I Never Told You – 4:15
Written-By – Arthur Hamilton, Johnny Mandel
Soprano Saxophone [Solo] – Jerome Richardson
B4 Oh Happy Day 3:35
Written-By – Edwin Hawkins
The title track for the album, written by MacDermot, Ragni and Rado was a drug-trip song from Act II of the breakout Broadway show musical “Hair”Hair (musical) – Wikipedia. Jones version here though is vastly different and features a series of solos by a resplendent Freddie Hubbard, and Hubert Laws. The song from Hair took on an entirely new life in 1996, when 60’s counterculture and psychedelic drug advocate, Timothy Leary died. His ashes were shot into space and orbit earth every ninety-six minuteshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Leary#Death. “Dead End” is also from Hair, as Morgan Ames noted in the liner notes
To take the “Hair” trip, begin modestly on Dead End, with bassist Brown and guitarist Eric Gale, add a touch of trumpet and flute, leading into full brass and reeds, then melt into Brown’s bass segue.Walking In Space – Liner Notes, Morgan Ames, 1969.
It’s not clear how much involvement Creed had in this album. However, given that “Hair” was everywhere in 1968-69, and would go on to win the GRAMMY for “Record of the Year” by producer Bones Howe with The 5th Dimension for “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”, as well as “Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Group”, it wouldn’t be surprising for Creed to have suggested Quincy look at tracks from the soundtrack to include for commercial appeal. The same was true of “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers which would win “Best Soul Gospel Performance”.
Well before this album Quincy already a hot-property and didn’t need a producer, 12-years later at the 24th Grammys, Quincy would win Grammy for “Best Producer”. Jones though had been away from jazz for a few years and through Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, along with his prior relationship with Creed, likely leaned on Creed to help make the album the success it became.
The tracks were recorded in June 1969, on the 18th and 19th, at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs in New Jersey. It was one of the last albums Creed would produce that would be issued on his A&M CTI imprint. A few months later he would break out on his own. Doug Payne, in his notes even suggests that working with Quincy may have hastened Creed’s breakup with A&M.
Doug Payne notes that the original title for the album was to be simply “QUINCY JONES”http://www.dougpayne.com/ctid3k.htm#walkinginspace. Doug sent me this review of the album.
Recorded over two days in June 1969 during a two-week hiatus between films and released five months later, Walking in SpaceThe album was originally scheduled to be titled Quincy Jones. The change was no doubt due to the universal excitement generated by Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon on July 20, … Continue reading is Quincy Jones at the top of his game.
It is a welcome return that sounds years removed from – and ahead of – the previous record under his name, Quincy’s Got A Brand New Bag (1965). From the West Coast, Q brought his musical (and business) partner, bassist Ray Brown, and filled the rest of the chairs with his favorite New York City studio men. “After all the films and tons of TV,” said Jones, “I was more than ready to return to the record business. I wanted to throw away the clock and just stretch out in the studio with my favorite musicians…like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Toots Thielemans, Hubert Laws and Freddie Hubbard. With the first-time pairing of Ray Brown on bass playing his trademark ‘hoong-giddy-ding’ and Grady Tate doing his ‘spang-a-lang’ in the rhythm section, the groove was so hot that I almost had to pour cold water on the two of them.”Quincy Jones, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (Doubleday, New York, 2001), pp. 211-12.
Interestingly, Walking in Space is one of the few of his recordings Jones even mentions in the book. Like a director helming a film, Jones is nominally in charge. But while he lays the foundation and guides the building of the piece, he lets his collaborators do what they do best to bring about his vision. The album is a potent reminder of what Q was initially known for – great charts and first-rate players – and a new way of hearing how well jazz can be popularized without being compromised.
Ray Brown’s bass and Bob James’ electric piano kick off the album’s opener, “Dead End,” by laying down an insidiously funky blues groove that is anything but a “dead end.” Eric Gale wails beautifully on guitar on the first of two pieces from Galt MacDermott’s hit musical Hair.Drummer Idris Muhammad, recording at the time for A&M/CTI as Leo Morris, was in the pit band of Hair and is the drummer on The Original Broadway Cast Recording – Hair (RCA Victor LSO-1150). Seamlessly plaited by Ray Brown’s supple bobs and bounces, “Dead End” gives way to the album’s terrific title track. Freddie Hubbard and Valerie Simpson (in her vocal debut) introduce us to the epic odyssey, “Walking in Space,” before unleashing soloists Hubert Laws, Jimmy Cleveland (an old Jones compadre), Bob James, the muted Freddie Hubbard, the appropriately otherworldly Roland Kirk and, finally, Eric Gale. Ray Brown and Grady Tate appropriately jettison the groove in and out of musical spheres.
Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe,” gets its strolling pace from Brown on upright bass and Tate on drums and its singing solos from Laws and the again-muted Hubbard. First heard on Golson’s 1960 album with Art Farmer, Meet the Jazztet, “Killer Joe” is now considered a jazz standard, due in large part to Q’s hit cover, which cracked Billboard’s Hot 100, peaking at number 74 in May 1970. Jones would cover the song again in 1995 on Q’s Jook Joint with features for vocalists Nancy Wilson, Queen Latifah and Töne Löc. The Jazz Crusaders’ “Love and Peace” gets its soulful gospel groove from Eric Gale, bassist Chuck Rainey (who would go on to work on a number of Quincy Jones albums and soundtracks throughout the seventies) and drummer Bernard Purdie, with solos from Gale and Hubert Laws, magical on tenor sax. Bob James steps in to provide the Jonesian chart for “I Never Told You,” a haunting though little-known Johnny Mandel tune from the Robert Altman film That Cold Day in the Park, with features for James, Toots Thielemans on harmonica and Jerome Richardson on soprano sax. Finally, Roland Kirk and Hubert Laws bring their signature sounds to rouse the choir into a joyous “Oh Happy Day.”Day” for The Bill Cosby Show soundtrack several months later, with Milt Jackson on vibes and Monty Alexander on piano giving the song a bluesier feeling. This version can be heard on Quincy Jones … Continue reading The song, Edwin Hawkins’ updated arrangement of an 18th century hymn, concludes the album on high note, much the way an encore at a concert might. A true revival.
“I just wanted to stretch out,” said Q, “and be free from the limitations of synchronization in the movie business. Along with Isaac Hayes’ ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ [on Hot Buttered Soul], and Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, this record was one of the foundational records of black FM radio.”Quincy Jones with Bill Gibson, Q on Producing, (Hal Leonard Books, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2010), p. 223.DownBeat awarded Walking in Space four and a half stars, the highest ranking of any of the A&M/CTI records reviewed by the magazine. “All in all, a beautiful album,” concludes writer Harvey Siders. Possibly docking the album half a star for its slick presentation, Siders adds, however, “perhaps a little too beautiful.” The reviewer would have preferred a little less “predictability” and a few more “rough edges” along the way. Still, he concedes that Quincy Jones has perfected something here: “He has a healthy outlook towards the art of jazz that seems to say ‘happiness is a chart that swings.’ Surely, this collection of charts swings unabashedly.”Harvey Siders, “Quincy Jones: Walking in Space,” DownBeat, March 5, 1970, pp. 21-24. Ultimately, Walking in Space reached an impressive number 56 on Billboard’s Top 200. “Killer Joe” reached number 47 on the R&B chart and became Q’s first-eve song to break the Hot 100, hitting number 72.
Doug Payne, review for ctproduced.com – SOUND INSIGHTS (dougpayne.blogspot.com)
Many of the artists and back-office roles on this album would go on to become staples for the soon to-be independent Creed Taylor International (CTI) label. Just a month after recording “Walking In Space“, Hubert Laws would record his first tracks as leader for Creed at American Sound Studios In Memphis. A follow-up session in September would finish what would become “Crying Song”. Freddie Hubbard, omni-present on Q’s album, would record his debut album, “Red Clay” for Creed and CTI in January 1970.
Finally, “Walking In Space” would bring Bob James into Creed’s sphere, both as a electric pianist, and an arranger. Bob would become a staple of CTI until he himself went his own way in the late 1970’s, first to Columbia with former CTI alumni Dave Schneider, and then to his own imprint/label, Tappan Zee(I have some interesting audio interviews from this period that I’ll include in an upcoming post).
Arthur Adams, a onetime legendary blues guitarist also came into his own around this time, not only did he write “Love and Peace” on this album would become a regular with both The Crusaders and recorded some great albums of his own and helped define the 70’s funk genre before touring with Nina Simone in the 80’s. Adams would have made a good addition to Creed’s KUDU label, but it never happened.
The liner notes for the album were written by Morgan AmesMorgan Ames | Discography | Discogs. I asked Morgan what she recalls about the album, and how she came to write the liner notes?Morgan Ames | Discography | Discogsmorganames.com
I was working for Quincy when he asked me to write the [liner] notes. I had written a lot of liner notes, mostly for Columbia Records, when I lived in New York. But I had returned to California and was introduced to Q by a mutual friend and screenwriter, David Giler. Q needed an assistant because he was about to share office space on Sunset Blvd. with old friend, bassist Ray Brown and of all people, Harold Robbins, a well-known novelist of the day.
Peculiar would be an understatement. Nobody ever figured out what this odd little trio was about. None of them ever came to the office, which was run by me and Harold’s secretary, Diana Jervis-Read, with whom I’m still friends. What a job that was. I was unfocussed but versatile as a musician, song writer, word writer, singer, good on the phone and wicked fast with a typewriter.
Q had me doing all of it, on record dates, film dates, taxiing him around (Quincy doesn’t drive), hosting Sarah Vaughan at the office where he was supposed to meet her and where she played the piano for me, meeting remarkable people, contracting sessions, bringing Billboard Magazine so he could monitor the charts. Mostly the job was saying no, something Quincy was no good at. He was always overbooked.
In the few years before all this, Q had been active scoring films. I think he was getting restless. It was a kind of transition period before Michael Jackson. He was throwing out the net, so to speak, looking for what he wanted to do next. I’ve noticed that when active people are in a shallow time, they might come together in some quasi-business situation to see if anything comes of it. Nothing much did with Q, Ray and Harold, who made one forgettable album for A&M. The album made no more sense than their office did.
Shortly after that, he jumped into his two great albums for A&M, “Walking in Space” and “Gula Matari”. Quincy has often told me that his favorite part of what I wrote was, “I love to hear a grown band cry.” I was kinda right about that. Believe me, everyone in life loves to hang with Quincy Jones, and right then it was Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss of A&M. (Steven Spielberg once said on film, “Quincy is a spraygun of love. You just have to hope you’re in the spray.”Morgan Ames in communication with ctproduced.com – March 2022.
It was about this time that Quincy branched out on his own, forming Quincy Jones’ Symbolic Music Productions. Along with Ray Brown, and Harold Robins that Morgan Ames discusses. “Walking In Space” was promoted by A&M album and promotion executive Harold Childs. In 1985, Childs would become a key player and President for Quincy’s QWEST Productions.
Leonard Feather discusses this in his January 25th, 1970 column in the LA Times.
Apart from this brief spurt, Symbolic Music Productions seems to have crash-and-burned, except for a UK subsidiary called Madrigal Management. Madrigal was headed up by Lou Reizner, formerly A&R head of Mercury who Jones likely met while Jones was working for Mercury and in Europe. Reisner was named president and managing director of Symbolic Europe, the first foreign affiliate of Quincy Jones’ Symbolic Music ProductionsCash Box Magazine, February 14th, 1970. Reisner, headquartered in London, signed new British band “Blue Mink”.
Blue Mink was worth remembering as the group included a number of future pop/rock stars including Alan Parsons, Ray Cooper, Herbie Flowers and others who went on to become stalwarts of the British music scene as well as anglo-American singer Madeline Bell.
The Italian Job Soundtrack
A far better soundtrack than “McKennas Gold”, more in line with the style and arrangement of “Walking In Space” is the soundtrack to the 1969 British film “The Italian Job”The Italian Job (1969) – IMDb by director Peter Collinson. The film became iconic, not just because it was British, featured Michael Caine and the Mini, it is a comedy that shows the working class fighting back against the system to pull off a big gold bullion robbery, or so they hoped.
Listening to the soundtrackThe Italian Job (Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) | Discogs I really felt that some of the featured artists and solos even sounded potentially like some of the musicians. There are scant details about the recording session in all the usual places, pretty much the only details are that the film score and soundtrack was by Quincy Jones; that the lyrics for “On Days Like This” were written by Don Black, and the track sung Matt Munro. We know from a 2000 CD reissue that Duffy PowerDuffy Power – Wikipedia played the harmonica. Finally, some versions of the soundtrack also credit Peter KingPeter King | Discography | Discogs for the Saxaphone on the instrumental version of “On Days Like This”. so it was always likely it was recorded in London.
I reached out to Russell ClarkeThe Rock’n’Roll Routemaster, the self-styled “Rock and Roll Routemaster”, writer, broadcaster and regular for the BBC Radio London Robert Elms show and asked Russell what he knew about the recording.
In 2010 Tony Visconti introduced me to his friend Gerald Chevin. Chevin had been in-house engineer at Advision StudiosAdvision Studios – Wikipedia in their original location in the basement at 83 New Bond Street (it moved to 23 Gosfield Street in 1970).
As the name suggests, the studio originally used for recording advertising jingles and voice-overs for TV and cinema(movie) commercials. In time, TV themes such as The Saint, Avengers and Department S were recorded at Advision, most written by Laurie Johnson whose nephew worked there.
One day in 1969, Gerald Chevin told me when I interviewed him, he came in early to find Quincy Jones sitting on the step writing out music on odd bits of paper. Gerald had no idea who he was but let him in and gave him a cup of tea. Two hours later the same guy had not only passed out these bits of paper – his arrangements for the film score to The Italian Job – to the orchestra, but was conducting them.
Apparently he’d come straight off the plane at Heathrow and had taken a cab straight to New Bond Street.Russell Clarke for ctproduced.com
The film was not a success in the US, this was partially blamed on the marketing and especially the films poster.
In 1969, ever versatile, Quincy wrote the score for a very British film, “The Italian Job”. It was an icon of sixties style from the mini to Michael Caine as working class hero. The Producers idea of using Quincy Jones surprised the films star.
Michael Caine (MC). “They said we are making an English movie about a load of English football[soccer] fans, he said, you know, we are bringing over an American jazz composer to do the score, we all went, what is he nuts?”
Quincy Jones(Q). I wanted to be a Brit’. I wanted to make it sound like a Brit’ wrote it, I wanted it to sound like British musicall hall mixed with cockney[rhyming] slang and so forth.
MC: He sorta made the film, if you’ve seen the film, the whole score was written by Quincy, and one of the great things about the Italian Job is the score. you know, it’s fantastic.
Q: Self preservation Society was about the guys escaping in the bus
Quincy even persuaded Michael[Caine] to sing on the track.
MC: Yeah, yeah, we all sang that, I sang that, I’ll do anything.
Q: I said yes, let’s go there, lets go all the way British music hall and cockney slang. It’s so exciting, when I see the soccer teams on TV now sing that at the world cup, it gives me goosebumps. It’s such a nice feeling.
But who many football fans know who wrote the track?
MC: You hearing the great score, but you are not sitting in the movie saying isn’t that a great score by Quincy Jones, you didn’t even know who wrote the score, you left before the credits.BBC Documentary – The Many Lives of Q, 2008Quincy Jones: The Many Lives of Q (TV Series 2008– ) – Company credits – IMDb.
It still seems odd to me that while Creed may not have been a major influence on Quincy, in all in the books and films about, and by Quincy, there is no mention of his work with CreedOn This Day: Quincy Jones calls Creed Taylor – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com).
Perhaps because they were just peers, passing ships? Perhaps because they were rivals? Perhaps there is bad blood between them, maybe one day someone will ask Quincy about this?
|↑1||64th Annual GRAMMY Awards | 2021 | GRAMMY.com|
|↑2||The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey & Passions – Quincy Jones – 2008, ISBN 978-1-933784-67-0|
|↑3||Quincy Jones | Artist | GRAMMY.com|
|↑4||On This Day: The GETZ / GILBERTO Grammys – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com)|
|↑5||Mackenna’s Gold (1969) – Full Cast & Crew – IMDb|
|↑6||Hair (musical) – Wikipedia|
|↑9||The album was originally scheduled to be titled Quincy Jones. The change was no doubt due to the universal excitement generated by Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon on July 20, 1969, a mere month after the album was recorded. During that Apollo 11 mission, Jones’ arrangement of Frank Sinatra singing “Fly Me to the Moon” with the Basie band was broadcast back to earth (Paul de Barros, “Q’s Moon Walk: MJF Reprises Quincy Jones’ A&M Years,” MJF59: Monterey Jazz Festival Magazine, September 16-18, 2016, p. 20).|
|↑10||Quincy Jones, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (Doubleday, New York, 2001), pp. 211-12.
Interestingly, Walking in Space is one of the few of his recordings Jones even mentions in the book.
|↑11||Drummer Idris Muhammad, recording at the time for A&M/CTI as Leo Morris, was in the pit band of Hair and is the drummer on The Original Broadway Cast Recording – Hair (RCA Victor LSO-1150).|
|↑12||Day” for The Bill Cosby Show soundtrack several months later, with Milt Jackson on vibes and Monty Alexander on piano giving the song a bluesier feeling. This version can be heard on Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby: The Original Jam Sessions 1969 (issued in 2004).|
|↑13||Quincy Jones with Bill Gibson, Q on Producing, (Hal Leonard Books, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2010), p. 223.|
|↑14||Harvey Siders, “Quincy Jones: Walking in Space,” DownBeat, March 5, 1970, pp. 21-24.|
|↑15, ↑16||Morgan Ames | Discography | Discogs|
|↑18||Cash Box Magazine, February 14th, 1970|
|↑19||The Italian Job (1969) – IMDb|
|↑20||The Italian Job (Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) | Discogs|
|↑21||Duffy Power – Wikipedia|
|↑22||Peter King | Discography | Discogs|
|↑23||The Rock’n’Roll Routemaster|
|↑24||Advision Studios – Wikipedia|
|↑25||BBC Four – Quincy Jones: The Many Lives of Q|
|↑26||Quincy Jones: The Many Lives of Q (TV Series 2008– ) – Company credits – IMDb|
|↑27||On This Day: Quincy Jones calls Creed Taylor – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com)|
Updated: March 14th, 9pm fixed image links, references and added Spotify albums.