Quincy Jones

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

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Quincy Jones has been threatening to write a long tone poem sketching the history of black music for decades now, and he has yet to do it. This project, rushed out in the wake of the 1977 TV mini-series Roots, is about as close as he has come. A brief (28 minutes) immaculately-produced and segued suite, Roots quickly traces a timeline from Africa to the Civil War, incorporating ancient and modern African influences (with Letta Mbulu as the featured vocalist), a sea shanty, field hollers, and fiddle tunes, snippets of dialogue from Roots actor Lou Gossett, and some Hollywood-style movie cues. Only a fraction of this music was used in the mini-series; oddly, the most familiar piece of music, the often-repeated "Roots Mural Theme," is not by Jones, but by film composer Gerald Fried, who wrote most of the TV score. Though some prominent jazzers (Shelly Manne, Victor Feldman, Ernie Watts, Lee Ritenour, Richard Tee, etc.) turn up in the orchestra, there is not a trace of jazz to be heard. This is a timely souvenir of a cultural phenomenon, but merely a curiosity for jazz fans.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Bill Summers
00:29
2 02:12
3 00:59
4
feat: Letta Mbulu
01:30
5 02:28
6 00:55
7 01:01
8 01:15
9
feat: Lou Gossett
00:33
10
feat: Stan Haze
00:16
11
feat: Lou Gossett
01:12
12
feat: Bobby Bruce
00:42
13 02:16
14 01:00
15 03:36
16
feat: Lou Gossett
02:24
17 04:53
blue highlight denotes track pick