Speaker Is unbelievable movie, it’s a groundbreaking movie in a lot of ways. I read up about the motion picture code and the nudity and so on, just in the briefest way gives a sense of what what it was about and why you chose Quincy for it.

Speaker The pictures about it, redemption that the pawnbroker’s about a redemption, really the redemption of a man and the elimination of guilt and. I wanted.

Speaker A black composer. Because I felt that the that the black life, that Harlan Persay was the vehicle of salvation. For Saul, the leading character. So what we worked out was rather interesting, I thought we kind of had the Nazareth theme, Saul’s theme and the Harlem theme. And they started here and here with this assault theme being sort of European in its origins. And then as the picture progressed, they just literally criss crossed, winding up with really the Harlem theme being totally triumphant. And I saw I felt a that to be an advantage in a year. And a black composer, Quincy hadn’t done a score till then. But I had heard some of his recordings. He took a band to Norway. I don’t know if you know about that. And I’d heard some of those recordings. I don’t know where I’d heard them. But I was very impressed. And so I came to import.

Speaker So did you have to fight to get him on the picture? I mean, there were so few black film scores at that. Was there an issue at this point or not really.

Speaker There was no issue about Quincy at all. And the we were an independent production. I don’t know what we would have run into if we’d been going through a studio.

Speaker But even with the studios, I don’t know. I know, for instance, Benny Carter was out at Fox for many, many years. I think he did some quite a bit of composition. I think if there was if there was less black and white issue, it might have been at the studios. There would’ve been less at the studios in other areas.

Speaker Can I just say one thing? I am a little concerned about the glasses. So I think I think he has some more. I would keep going higher. I think we could just talk his glasses off a little bit more.

Speaker The only thing is the only thing is I started not being able to see that.

Speaker Marty, what you just did.

Speaker Okay. A.

Speaker So this faulty hearing, some albums you’ve done overseas.

Speaker What was it about the flavor of those or the jazz feeling that Quincy had that felt right for the score, that had the quality that came through even on those early recordings, his attitude, freshness, newness and his approach to jazz?

Speaker Without going into becoming any sort of school? I mean, as you know what we’re talking about, the early 60s, BOP was very, very prevalent then. And he was in no fashion.

Speaker It was just a very fresh sound, though. There was a kind of energy to it. When I think of it as Campisi Energy, you know, that there was a drive in it that he swung and and without without the use of cliches. And I thought that was very promising for the movie.

Speaker Describe how you worked together. I mean, this was Quincy’s first score. Obviously, he’d have to learn the ropes. How do you feel? Like you have done what? Where did you just let him?

Speaker Once we had set ourselves thematically about the way the score was to be approached, because movie music is a very, very difficult subject to talk about simply because most of it is so bad.

Speaker And most of it is Muzak, you know, just wall to wall carpeting. And so the first thing was just to and I think he was delighted at this just to explain to him that I didn’t want him duplicating anything that was happening in the movie. If the score didn’t have its own function, then we if we simply weren’t going to use it. And I pointed out to him that I had done many pictures and did since Mattel, you know, score because I couldn’t find a function for a score, at any rate. He he’s very bright, as you know, and got the idea immediately. And once that concept was late, laid out, he just took off and the. The spotting, the technical requirements, all of that is, you know, technically is as hip as they come and and that was no problem to him. You know, he’s just exceedingly bright. So from the first session on, no, I think we did the whole score and there was a big score, long score in.

Speaker In two days and Quincy conducted.

Speaker What was lovely to see was because he was so loved really by jazz musicians were the musicians who turned out for those sessions because there was some big names, Homma. Jerome Richardson, I remember, is on sax. George Duvivier was on bass.

Speaker Some guy Quinceo remember his name. God, I wish I could remember who could make sounds when wrapping his knuckles on his head. Don’t ask me what his name was. Dizzy. Does. He came in the second day of recording just back from Brazil, brought with him a kind of rhythmic structure that he flipped, that he illustrated the Quincy and Quincy Immediately Incorporated incorporated it into a cue.

Speaker So the recording session was thrilling, I think. Not sure. I think it was Philly. Joe Jones on on drums was a hell of an outfit. And if I’m not mistaken, I think a very, very young Jon Faddis. I think he must’ve been like 14, 50 second trumpet. It was it was it was something.

Speaker And in those days, how did you know you didn’t have to sort of have it? How did you work? How did how did they do that recording session just to time here?

Speaker Well, you see, I one of the things I am not crazy about in a score, I think in melodrama you need this, but I think in just a straight drama. I’m not interested in it. As I say, Mickey, mousing it and doing with the music, what’s going on with picture. Now, of course, it has to blend with what’s going on visually, but in an awful lot of my scores, I’ve never recorded to picture just stopwatches. Fine, because the most important thing that I find in a score. Believe it or not, is where it begins. Where I mean, two frames can make a difference as to whether the score or whether that cue works or not, where it begins and where it ends. And I wasn’t interested in catching the cut to the street, catching the cut to him, the cut to her. It wasn’t that kind of a score. So we just did it with a stopwatch.

Speaker All right.

Speaker You’ve worked for us. Some people have difficulty putting Quincy compositions in a certain style. It’s not easy categorize. Is there any other way that you can qualify? Quantify music that he composed?

Speaker I can’t quantify the music with Quincy composes because in each instance he wrote to a different kind of movie. What would you four movies together, four or five movies. And one of the lovely things about Quincy. Is he he works on the P piece. He works on the picture. It’s not an expression of it. Of course. It’s an expression of Quincy, but it’s not about a statement by Quincy. He is serving, as we all do, the the intention of the movie. So the score scores were very, very different in Philly. Other than the one thing that they did have in common is that they would always be sounds in there. That that surprised me and then and enchanted me. I’d never heard a bass marimba before and I’ve forgotten which picture we did together. Quincy did a good part of the score on the bass marimba. It was thrilling, fairly, and it wasn’t a pursuit of originality for the sake of originality. It always belonged to what we were working on.

Speaker All right.

Speaker Back pawnbroker, very briefly, very tense movie, ever present threat of violence and the sort of emotional restraint floating. You know what? What do you think Quincy brought to that personally?

Speaker Violence is something that Quincy understands very well, as you know, from his background. And what was interesting, of course, on pawnbroker’s that we never played the violence. It never. Nothing in the score ever got rambunctious. And as I say, have no emphasis on on any on any physical things. That extraordinary sequence when the kid is running all over town, try and find. Some way of not having to do what he knows is going to. I’m not having to go through what he knows he’s going to have to go through and that simple baseline that Quincy was using.

Speaker Bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup.

Speaker And the tension in that and the cumulative painfulness of it was extraordinary. And it was simply a bass rhythm line, that kind of thinking. It’s just irreplaceable, you know, and without Mongo’s.

Speaker It was it was a sort of jazzy score at that point. You said, you know, well, there was lots to be like, but we’re pulling that in, for what it’s worth.

Speaker I don’t really remember whether they were using much jazz and scores. Obviously, Quincy was subsequently in the heat of the night. And a number of scores he did for me. Quincy was using it all the time. I think there had been no. I know I wanted a predominantly jazz score for Pawnbroker and originally, by the way, went to MJ. I went to see if they would do it and they didn’t like the movie.

Speaker So I went to Quincy next and. I I think there had been I don’t really know.

Speaker I just think if you back up in the chair, your headlines to be coming down. I mean, just your your your butt.

Speaker Oh, I think.

Speaker There we go. You know, after pawnbroker quinsy goes. I did. Did he ever discuss his plans to really leave club gigs and records and and try and make it as a film score?

Speaker I we we had a number of discussions about it. I think one, he a composition at that time was certainly one of the most important parts of his life. I think he wanted that more than anything. And with that, again, because of his extraordinary intelligence, we talked about this. I pointed it out and I he may have understood it before I pointed it out. I don’t know. I remember we were talking one day and I said to him that now, by the way, I have to apologize for the generality. And like all generalities are gone. But part of it is going to be untrue. But there is a limit, in my view, to how many good scores are in a. Movie composer, the reason being, it’s not theirs. It doesn’t belong to them, they are totally subservient to another function and other tastes and opinions. I’ve been a Nix’s and I can’t tell you what I’ve seen done to those scores.

Speaker They’ve been ripped apart and rewritten and whole melody lines stripped out and just leave the baseline, stripped the bass line. I’ll just leave the melody. I hate the violins. Just let me have a flute.

Speaker People do insane things because everybody’s got an opinion about music and everybody thinks they know something about it, both of which are not true. And or in the first one I shouldn’t have an opinion about. At any rate, I did point out to Quincy because I cared so for him, that it could be very destructive writing only for movies that. Because it wasn’t yours. You could find yourself repeating and becoming mannered and so on, so forth. And many years later.

Speaker I don’t know how many movies Quincy had done by them, but we were talking one day and he told me he was hanging up his gloves and as a as a movie composer. And I was delighted at that.

Speaker I was just thrilled at that because I felt that otherwise he might fall into it, as we all do. Using too many of your own cliches.

Speaker All right. Mike, just stick in the same sentence.

Speaker So, yeah, so he he has the aneurysm in the 70s, which I mean, the guy was working, he scored one your eight films and you know, I’ve never seen it work like Quincy works. Were you in touch with him at that point in his life or not?

Speaker Really? No. You know, the very fact he lives in California right away changed our level of contact. He’d call me when he come to New York. He used to stay at the Drake Hotel. And we’d see each other then. But we lost we we lost contact considerably when he went out there, unless he came back east to do a score, speak to the to the reunion, so to speak, that you had on the way after his aneurysm.

Speaker In a way, he really has hung up those gloves. But for some reason, he comes back to work with you.

Speaker Well, I think there were two elements present. First of all, we really do. We have, I think, deep feelings for each other. And there’s nothing like getting older or getting very sick to say, wait, I better get get back in touch with the things that matter to me. But I think also, aside from any personal connection we had, I think he saw, as I did, a tremendous opportunity in a modern big budget, all black musical, what it meant in terms of movies. First of all, musicals were slowly falling out of favor anyway. And and that story has a particular resonance. The fact that it was a remake of a classic movie or I think all those elements came into it. I think he also wanted. David, when we talk about the concept in the movie, I think it excited him a great deal. The sad thing is that that concept never really got carried out, that we all my fault that there was a lot I didn’t know about in terms of a certain kind of shooting, blue screen and so on, so forth. And the concept on the movie got waylaid very early in it. So I don’t know. I’ve never talked to Quincy about it. I know my own feeling for feeling is a big disappointment in the movie, but I’m pretty sure Quincy felt the same way but didn’t get nominated for it. I think so, yeah. So despite that, I think you might have even might’ve felt as unfulfilled as I did by the movie.

Speaker Yeah, I think it was difficult working experience.

Speaker Mm hmm. I think also he didn’t have.

Speaker Well never mind. Well, it was all right in a way. It came from a Broadway musical. He was denied a certain freedom.

Speaker Maybe he read it didn’t come in with any idea of reworking the material necessarily. I think it basically came in as really the musical director and director in the real sense of the word concept of numbers. What the arrangements would be like, whether they’d be dance numbers or some numbers and so on.

Speaker So it was much more than than, you know, conducting it, but and arranging it. It was trying to get a concept across which, as I say, or my head did not happen. And I think that’s what left him feeling frustrated.

Speaker Right. Is it easy just in one line to describe what that concept is?

Speaker Yeah, I felt that the word that was the concept, the concept that I wanted out of out of The Wiz was that reality could be the most fantastic thing of all, that we could make an extraordinary Emerald City out of New York City. And that was a concept in that we did not get done. More and more kept getting getting relegated. The studio was going to be at the beginning almost in a complete location picture.

Speaker Now, even though it might have been difficult working relationship remerged relationship between Quincy and one of your cast members, the change is music history. Can you see this coming? Can you see a connection between you and Michael Jackson?

Speaker What? So I could actually see that relate to the relationship between Quincy and Michael happening because for so many reasons. Michael is very, very needy. And I have that relationship with him. And I think if I had lived in California, he would have found two fathers. I mean, he would for years just call me damnedest times, three, four in the morning. Who is here? You have got the time difference, you know. And when he met Quincy, who could now really support him in his work, as well as in his psychological being and and emotional being. I think it was. A godsend to him. And I don’t think it’s coincidental that he’s done some of his best work work during this time of his relationship with Quincy.

Speaker What specifically, you know, from from your understanding musically? How did they connect so well?

Speaker I think because Quincy is original musically. He recognized that immediately and Michael, that Michael is completely original talent, in my view, was to as original as the Beatles. Also, as far as I know, I’ve never seen Quincy competitive. I think he would be nothing but encouraging in in terms of where whatever area of Michael wanted to go into and. Again, that and that lack of clich├ęd thinking and then the third thing, which I think is also critical is is just immense tender emotional support. So that whatever risks Michael was taking musically, there was a safety net of Quincy underneath it, both musically and psychologically.

Speaker Now that Quincy works more as a producer than a composer. What what do you think’s important to him now in terms of his work?

Speaker You know, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s important to Quincy Nolan’s, his work. I don’t know what he you know, neither of us have got a hell of a lot of time left. And I don’t know what he’d like to do with his last years. But he there are so many arrows in that quiver that something major will emerge from something someplace.

Speaker There is one can you think of a bio or throw this at a particular moment or story, it’s indelibly etched where Quincy came to you with a problem or just shared a laugh or got together after a long time or some sort of, you know, personal anecdote that you think reflects.

Speaker I think I think the essence of Quincy gets summed up really in a charming thing that happened during the recording sessions on Pawnbroker. We did the picture for no money. It was privately financed, privately financed by an individual. And so after nine hundred thirty thousand dollars, there was no more money. And so budget was very important. And we got into the recording session and I’d heard a Q and Quincy and I talked about it and he decided to revise it a little. And there’s this image that I got with Billy Byers on the floor of the studio with a score spread out and 20 directions. Recopy, not even a copy. We didn’t even have a copy. It’s in the studio, recopying parts. And if I’m not mistaken, stoned out of his head. Or at least very confused and. And my memory of it is that he copied second trumpet, first to third flute or red. I don’t know what he did, but he copied the wrong part for the wrong instrument. And all I could hear was tick tock, tick tock, time going and money gone. And I said, Quincy, Quincy. He Billy. All right. Can we give due to it, should we call an emergency case? And he laughed at that sense of relaxation, that sense of trusting people, which gives them by the way, that’s an interesting thing about Michael. There was never any condescension. There was never any such thing as he’s 17 or 19 or 20. Are you a Quincy’s first treatment of movie with total respect and on a one. On one level. On a mature level. And that that thing of laughing in the face of Billy Byers spread out on the floor, look completely lost. Trusting Billy. He’d get it right. It was finally because he was so frantic. Billy B was so frantic. He would have gotten that done quicker than any copyist would have anyway. With that relaxed trust of somebody, to me is the essence of Quincy.

Speaker Last big question, which I ask everyone, and you can answer it from a personal perspective or place them, you know, in the world of arts and politics and whatever. But who is Quincy Jones?

Speaker I don’t think I can answer that. I think he’s so many things, so many people.

Speaker And what’s startling and alarming is that all of them, in my view, are genuine.

Speaker It’s not as if this is the defensive level of that match, you know. And this is. Code number seven to hide code number two, what have you. I think he’s out there in the open, or at least that’s been my experience with him so that the number of different men that I’ve seen, the producer, the composer, the musician, the the arranger, the the the compassionate helper.

Speaker The the listener. Great listening. Are all true parts of him. None of them are defensive. None of them are.

Speaker Just not fake. And.

Speaker So I couldn’t tell you who he is because he’s all of those things together, and it’s a bit I can tell you this. It’s a very big size.

Speaker Great. Let me just double check my questions. I think I’ve done in I left the biggest one off, moved to L.A., Hollywood and. Work ethic. Jazzy score. The work with Michael was that, you know.

Speaker I don’t know if you know, from my cover letter, I married Edythe Landau’s daughter Kathy.

Speaker No, I didn’t. Was it Ely…

Speaker Put up the money for the Pawnbroker. We got our, we got our first checks on the Pawnbroker out of Edie’s household account. Ely didn’t even know enough to set up a a limited partnership at that point.

Speaker Can I just ask you briefly from my family. What was it? I didn’t really know him. I just saw this. What was he like?

Speaker He was terrific. He was a bon vivant. He was a very big, vulgar man, but with a great heart and tremendous sensitivity and. I don’t know. He was never a bullshitter. He was. When he told it to me, I believed him. And it always turned out to be true. I was crazy about him. He had, I think, tremendous ego. But I don’t know what part that played in his subsequent life. I think he probably could have made a lot of associations that were would have worked more for him as pictures got more expensive. So he couldn’t carry the load himself and had to go out and find other sources. But but I thought he was wonderful and brave. He put up the money for two my favorite movies. Long Day’s Journey, and this.

Speaker He was sort of one of the earliest independent, you know, totally independent.

Speaker No, he was independent. I mean, when I say my check was signed, Edythe, E D Y T H E is the way she spelledher name. Landau. And it was one of those small checks like you ripped from the book that you carry in your purse with the personal home address on it. It was not a it was not a company check. It was not a.. It was… Nothing was even incorporated.

Speaker Well, thank you, sir. Is there one moment that the pawnbroker did you remember where it’s just a tangible moment where the music. True, the.

Speaker Oh, you all the way all the way through the opening ceremonies. But with the very opening that the title sequence that ride into Harlem, the sequence where the kid is running around trying to work from place to place, not even his mother is of any help. The final cue, that whole last cue. And with Rod putting his finger on the spike where I even took out the actors sound, I looked Quincy’s trumpet be the sound of him putting his hand through the spike. It’s a brilliantly organic score. Performing its own drama completely connected with the drama that’s going on. There’s not an excessive moment in it.

Speaker I never cease to be amazed by the power of music and how it can just transcend can take something and just just putting in a completely different level.

Speaker You did. You did a lot of stuff where there was no there was nothing but music. And you just watched somebody.

Speaker Yeah. I don’t like to use music and sound effects together. Too much. Too much. Again, from the old joke. There are no rules. But, you know, I’d like one or the other two to do the job for me in a scene where Geraldine and Broad are talking on her terrorists and it’s overlooking the railroad yard on the west side of Manhattan. And obviously, the sound of trains has a whole connotation for sore. And we did that with sound effects. That is considered an underscore that.

Speaker So you split the labor.

Speaker Well, thank you. You’re very welcome. We’ll just do a minute of routines there and go, I will get out of your way. Oh, by the way, I don’t think I understand. I like your book, Mr. Lumet. Oh, thanks. Have an appearance or a the realese as as they used to pay a dollar they cut back.

Speaker Thanks again. Well. This is Room tone.

Speaker Rough over all this. We’ll take over last, Chris. He wants to.


Sidney Lumet
Interview Date:
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"Sidney Lumet , Quincy Jones: In The Pocket" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 18, 2001 ,
(1 , 1). Sidney Lumet , Quincy Jones: In The Pocket [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Sidney Lumet , Quincy Jones: In The Pocket" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 18, 2001 . Accessed January 27, 2023


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