Quincy Jones - Soul Bossa Nostra (2010)

Other than a handful of one-offs, producer, composer, and arranger Quincy Jones has been busy outside of the music world, acting as a film producer and a cultural ambassador. Q: Soul Bossa Nostra is his first proper "new" album in 15 years, though it revisits tracks he either composed, recorded, or produced previously with a host of the current era's most popular artists from the R&B, pop, and hip-hop worlds. Given his rep, the star power here is not surprising, but re-recording classic songs with new singers -- or in some cases adding vocals to a track that never had them at all -- is risky. Soul Boss Nostra feels like a tribute exercise -- assembled more for radio play and to attract the holiday and single-track download markets -- than a creative one. One need only go to the remake of Shuggie Otis' classic "Strawberry Letter 23," which Jones produced for the Brothers Johnson in 1977. The vocal and production by Akon employ shimmering, slippery hip-hop rhythms, Auto-Tune, and layers of programmed keyboards and backing vocals, without the tune's signature bassline! It's thin and hollow. The oft-sampled hit "Soul Bossa Nova" appears here as a collaboration between Naturally 7 and Ludacris (who has sampled it himself). Jones' new arrangement is streamlined; it lacks the dynamic punch and humor of the hit. Q composed "Ironside" for the '70s television series; he uses the original orchestral and vocal tracks with a rap by Talib Kweli on top. It's better, but still feels disconnected. Why Jones re-arranged and re-corded "Tomorrow" with John Legend is a mystery; this version is void of the warmth of Tevin Campbell's from 1990. Campbell is here on a remake of Al B. Sure/Barry White track "Secret Garden" that keeps White's original vocal, and adds Campbell's with Robin Thicke, LL Cool J, Usher, and Tyrese. It is utter lacking in finesse or emotion. "Get the Funk Out of My Face," with Snoop Dogg, at least retains the Brothers Johnson feel; his rap almost works. "P.Y.T." is remade here by T-Pain and Thicke with so much Auto-Tune, it sounds like a cartoon soundtrack. Amy Winehouse's remake of "It's My Party" (which Jones produced for Lesley Gore in 1962), is tepid. Bebe Winans' reading of "Everything Must Change" is easily the set's classiest, most soulful track; it stands out beautifully from the dross. Given Jones' legendary stature and reputation for taste, this set feels unnecessary at best, and downright cynical at worst. (by Thom Jurek)

Arden "Keyz" Altino (keyboards)
Victor Axelrod (piano)
Jacqueline Brand (strings)
Thomas Brenneck (guitar, vibraphone)
Asia Bryant (background vocals)
Erick "Ed" Coomes (bass, guitar)
Tyler Coomes (percussion)
David Ewart (strings)
Jamie Foxx (background vocals)
Cochemea Gastelum (saxophone)
Latonya Givens (background vocals)
Andrew Gouche (bass)
Andrew Greene (trumpet)
Dave Guy (trumpet)
Reggie Hamilton (bass)
Tavis Ivey (background vocals)
Paul Jackson, Jr. (guitar)
Justin Keitt (piano)
Trevor Lawrence Jr. (percussion)
Natalie Leggett (strings)
Mario Deleon (strings)
Vanessa Marquez (background vocals)
Terrace Martin (drums, keyboards, saxophone, vocals)
Nick Movshon (bass)
Ade Omotayo (background vocals)
Katia Popov (strings)
Ryan Porter (trombone)
Prince Charlez (background vocals)
Alfredo Rodriguez (piano
Kendra Ross (background vocals)
Homer Steinweiss (drums)
Neal Sugarman (saxophone)
Jared Tankel (saxophone)
Alex Teamer (keyboards)
Zalon Thompson (background vocals)
Mervyn Warren (keyboards, percussion, background vocals)
Kamasi Washington (saxophone)
Billy Wes (vocals)
Don Williams (percussion, vibraphone)
Marlon Williams (guitar, vocals)
Dontae Winslow (trumpet)

01. Ironside (feat. Talib Kweli) (Jones) 3.55
02. Strawberry Letter 23 (feat. Akon) (Otis) 3.53
03. Soul Bossa Nostra (feat. Naturally 7, Rudy Currence, Ludacris) (Currence/Johnson/Jones/Ludacris) 4.08
04. Give Me The Night (feat. Jamie Foxx)( (Temperton) 3.44
05. Tomorrow (feat. John Legend) (Garrett/G.Johnson/L.Johnson) 4.31
06. You Put a Move On My Heart (feat. Jennifer Hudson) (Temperton) 5.00
07. Get the Funk Out Of My Face (feat. Snoop Dogg) (G.Johnson/L.Johnson/Jones) 3.11
08. Secret Garden (feat. Tevin Campbell, Tyrese Gibson, LL Cool J, Robin Thicke, Usher, Barry White) (DeBarge/Garrett/Jones/Temperton) 5.53
09. Betcha Wouldn't Hurt Me (feat. Mary J. Blige, Q-Tip, Alfredo Rodriguez) (Andrews/Wonder) 7.05
10. Everything Must Change (feat. BeBe Winans) (Ighner) 5.24
11. Many Rains Ago [Oluwa] (feat. Wyclef Jean) (Jones/Semenya) 4.57

12. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (feat. T-Pain, Robin Thicke) (Ingram/Jones) 4.05
13. It's My Party (Gluck/Gold/Gottlieb/Weiner) 2.36
14. Hikky-Burr (feat. David Banner, Three 6 Mafia) (Cosby/Jones) 2.56
15. Sanford and Son (feat. B.o.B, Prince Charlez, Mohombi, T.I.) (Jones) 4.08

ARMU 2138
ARMU 2138 (shareplace)