Quincy Jones

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell

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 Stream
1 Quincy Jones feat: Bill Summers 00:29 Amazon
2 Quincy Jones 02:12 Amazon
3 Quincy Jones feat: Wattsline Choir / Letta Mbulu / Caiphus Semenya 00:59 Amazon
4 Quincy Jones feat: Letta Mbulu 01:30 Amazon
5 Quincy Jones feat: Wattsline Choir / Letta Mbulu 02:28 Amazon
6 Quincy Jones feat: Zak Diouf / Bill Summers 00:55 Amazon
7 Quincy Jones 01:01 Amazon
8 Quincy Jones feat: Alex Hassilev 01:15 Amazon
9 Quincy Jones feat: Lou Gossett 00:33 Amazon
10 Quincy Jones feat: Stan Haze 00:16 Amazon
11 Quincy Jones feat: Lou Gossett 01:12 Amazon
12 Quincy Jones feat: Bobby Bruce 00:42 Amazon
13 Quincy Jones 02:16 Amazon
14 Quincy Jones 01:00 Amazon
15 Quincy Jones feat: Wattsline Choir / James Cleveland 03:36 Amazon
16 Quincy Jones feat: Lou Gossett 02:24 Amazon
17 Quincy Jones feat: Wattsline Choir / Letta Mbulu 04:53 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick