... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

The Essence of Quincy

The Where:

Schloss Borbeck, a castle in Essen, Germany; a historic landmark in this city that was founded in the year 845.

The Who:

The WDR Big Band of Cologne, one of the most successful band orchestras in Europe. For this event, conducted by Finnish musician Vellu Halkosalmi.

The What:

A concert, The Essence of Quincy, presenting menopausebarbee uncle Quincy Jones’ compositions and arrangements from the late 1950s through the early 1960s (!!!)

Why: Truly amazing story. Vellu loves music. I mean, he loves it. And he is not just a music lover, he is quite brilliant in his own right. He plays several instruments, conducts, arranges, writes and does what gifted musicians are able to do.

What he recognized, as he told his audience, is that although Uncle Q’s records are global, we rarely have the opportunity to hear his works performed live on stage–especially the recordings from when he first started out. These are treasures! These treasures Vellu wanted to bring to the stage. He reached out to Uncle Q’s secretary. In return, he got a call from Uncle Q himself at 4 in the morning CET. He wanted to support the project.

Long story short, Uncle Q went to his archive room where all his music sheets are stored. Pages upon pages of precious material are stacked from the floor to the ceiling, feet deep. He sent Vellu the sheets of music from several songs. The interesting thing is that because some of these songs were composed and arranged and arranged again, all the sheets of notes couldn’t be found so here is where the genius of Vellu kicked in: just from listening to the original songs, he filled in the blanks with the notes, transcribed it all, sent it to Uncle Q, got his approval and The Essence of Quincy was born.

Twenty-four hours later, I still have goose bumps. You just don’t experience this genius of composition live on stage. Keen to every nuance from every instrument, I just couldn’t keep up with the elements, the pitches and the surprises. Reading the sheets of music, hah! Reading I say, looking at the original sheets of music where Uncle Q inserted the names of who should come in where, etcetera, was just simply nothing short of breathtaking. We’re talking brilliant musicians like Clark Terry and Patti Bown and so many greats who laid the foundation, who had skill, who loved their craft. Amazing.

And before the night was over, Vellu, spoke about the brilliance of physically constructing a musical instrument, and how one determines or figures out how a note will make what kind of sound and how these sounds come to life. Oh, it’s much more than amazing my friends.

Thank you to WDR Big Band bass player John Goldsby for this invitation. Thank you to the WDR Band for bringing this concert to life and thank you Vellu for having the light bulb, the inspiration and the wherewithal to bring this to the stage.

Uncle Q, at one of the shows we attended together, you hummed out the end of a song that a sax player was playing before he reached it. I asked you, “How did you know that his conclusion would sound like that?” You said, “Baby, that is just the natural progression of things”.

That’s it. Drop the mic.