Interviewer: So here is this broad question I throw to everyone. The impossible question, who is Quincy Jones?

Carter: Quincy Jones is what I would consider.

Carter: The proverbial renaissance man of the music business. He does everything.

Carter: Does it all superbly with confidence and skill and and most of all, love.

Interviewer: Yes. That's great. You said before there's a certain part of it that's a little kid when you see that.

Interviewer: How do you feel that?

Carter: Quincy is the man along with other things he's going to be forever youthful. He may live as long as I am living, and I hope he does. And he'll still be on.

Interviewer: Great, now, Quincy sort of was mentored by a lot of different people along the way. You're one of the people he cites as a as a mentorship role. What? What? How did you most help Quincy, your mentor, Quincy, do you think?

Carter: I'm really over credited with any influence I've had on Quincy's life or career.

Carter: Because when I met him, he was sort of he had it all and he hadn't yet done it all, but he certainly had it all. I met him first in nineteen fifty eight when he was with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra. And I was living in Hollywood even at that time. And he and Dizzy came to my house for Thanksgiving dinner, after which we all fell asleep on the floor. We weren't high. We were just fallen. Very well stated. But that's that's how long I've known frequently. But prior to that, I had had some idea about his talent. I was leading the orchestra at the Moulin Rouge Hotel in 1955, and a young singer, a female singer, came through and she said some arrangement that was so impressed me. I said, who did this? And she said, Quincy Jones. And I sort of knew then that was the name I was going to be proud to know later on.

Interviewer: What's that singer, notable or not?

Carter: Unfortunately, I don't even remember her name.

Interviewer: Wasn't like, that happened to be Dinah Washington.

Interviewer: You know, you and very few others before Quincy worked in Hollywood. That was sort of a kind of a closed door. Explain explain that the sort of industry here and how both you and then Quincy to some, you know, some large measure were able to break through.

Carter: Well, Quincy, actually to a much larger method measure. I don't know what to tell you about that. That just one of those things where you you come in, if you're lucky, you get through. If you're not, you don't. But at the time when I came through. I don't know. There are a lot of people as talented, talented, and probably more so than I that I know won't have any success that I enjoyed later on. And I think it's a great bit of luck.

Interviewer: What about, you know, do you think the racial element played a huge part in who got to score films or TV shows? And what did it take for Quincy to sort of make it in that biz?

Carter: Well, to a great degree, you've got to realize that it was a matter also of context, not only race, who played tennis with this person whose wife played cause with this person and, you know, contacts and of course, the racial thing we were all aware of that was we're not going to get on to that.

Carter: It's all been hashed down for so many years and will be for years to come. But I can't explain it really. I'm not really a historian, but I was lucky in Quincy, was pretty was lucky than I was. And without being too modest, a lot more talented.

Interviewer: That's very modest.

Interviewer: Tell me, you know, Quincy had these earlier mentors in the jazz world. One was Lionel Hampton. He played for them, you know, arrange things for and so forth. In the broadest sense, not a particular what would Quincy have learned from Lionel Hampton or picked up and incorporated into his own big band style and so forth?

Carter: I can't specify what he may have learned from Lionel Hampton or Hampton or any of the other people that he considered mentors. But I think he was very, very ambitious and very interested in learning. And he was very, very forward looking because he went to Europe and he spent time with the. Oh, this wonderful woman, composer, teacher, not gnarliest, not a balance. Yeah, that's right. And then he had the good fortune to be able to do only things and make all these contacts. And as I said earlier, Quincy loved everybody and everybody loved him. And they loved him because he loved everybody and loved begets love.

Interviewer: That's right. What about Count Basie, Quincy has a soft spot for.

Carter: Well, that's another here's another one like Quincy. You see, everybody had a soft spot for Count Basie. Count Basie loved everybody. I loved him. I. He gave me one of my first jobs in the early 20s when I was a teenager.

Carter: And he would allow me to come in and play with his trio at a Harlem nightspot where he played with just himself and a drummer and no bass player, just a piano and drums. And I'd come in with my saxophone and he'd allow me to sit in. After that, I was given a job that was one of my first job, paying jobs, doing a job like that with only a bass and piano, not a bass, drums and piano. And myself and the pianist with Willie the Lion Smith. And also that that was really the early 20s. So, you know. Basey was one of the people who was very, very nice to me and tolerated me when I wasn't playing too well.

Interviewer: Wow, that's amazing. Set the scene. You know, nowadays people don't understand how hot and exciting and so on. The jazz scene was Birdland in Harlem. Well, what was it like, say, in the 50s when Quincy came up with these different big bands and was pulling people from other bands? Give us a sense of what it was like to go to these shows.

Carter: I wish I could.

Carter: I came to California in 1942, so doing all of the bebop era and all of that going on in New York.

Speaker The Fifty Second Street I had played in 50 Second Street in 1941. But when I came to California in the end of 1942, I was more a part of that scene. So I don't really know what went on there other than reading from it. As you have done. You know, I don't really know.

Interviewer: Okay, great. What about, you know, dizzy? I see prominently displayed in the other room, this wonderful poster. You and dizzy and so on. Quincy takes on this role, a musical director and I think arranger and leader of this goodwill tour that he does in 1956. Why would he be interested in Quincy at that point to lead his band that way?

Carter: Well, he recognized what Quincy had to offer. Quincy was a fine, fine trumpet player and he was a fine arranger. And he obviously was a good business man and still is great.

Interviewer: What was it?

Interviewer: What was it that you think made Dizzy's band great?

Carter: Dizzy made Dizzy's band great. Dizzy he was a great entertainer as well as the great trumpet player. But as a trumpet player, he opened up. Oh, just ears and eyes and everything that nobody had heard before.

Carter: And.

Carter: He was a he was another one of those people that loved everybody. And it came through in his performances, you know. What can you say about that?

Interviewer: Working in TV, something you did a considerable amount of. What was the trick in terms of, you know, Quincy scored lots of both films and TV. How is that different from working, say, on the bandstand or, you know, in the studio?

Carter: Well, you know, to me, it's so different that I don't think I could go into it and say anything of importance, anything very helpful to anybody. That, one, learn anything about it in a few moments. It's it's it. But it is quite different.

Interviewer: It's like a service. I don't want to say stuck, but you've got material you have to work to.

Carter: Oh, absolutely. Oh, indeed. It's not, sir. You have done you you you you're not improvising. Right, sir.

Interviewer: That sort of thing is sort of the opposite of jazz, where you get up and liberate yourself did it?

Carter: It's quite the opposite of jazz. And, you know, free jazz or any other kind of jazz. Well, just liberation, as we might say.

Interviewer: Now, just speak if you want to. Any personal stories of Quincy in an interview, say at one point, Benny Carter.

Interviewer: He gave me the bow, the arrow and the target too. how you know what in your conversations with him, I know you said you're over credited, but just share a sense of, you know, the love you get from Quincy or an experience you had with him that bears recounting.

Carter: There's so much so many sides of Quincy.

Carter: You know, he's a quick what's the word quintessential? I wonder if that's where his name came from. They knew what he was going to be, but I don't know, said that there's so much that he had to offer when he appeared on the scene. And I don't know what he got from me, but. I got as much from him and I'm still getting it.

Interviewer: And it's great.

Interviewer: Let's see what about. We talked a little bit about. Let's cut for one sec. Let me show you this show. And.

Interviewer: It's tricky, but it's that as a jab with the roots of jazz, the ability to improvise and so on, you can go on and do lots of other things.

Interviewer: It's a sort of great grounding for Quincy to have come up that way and then be able to pull from jazz into pop or to work with Michael Jackson and give jazz licks and so on. Can you help explain that to an audience in terms of your sense of music and where jazz fits in? I mean, a lot of people nowadays, if we we're not on right now, we're just.

Carter: Yeah, we're just about to start. I have a lot of difficulty with the word jazz.

Interviewer: Yes. Really?

Carter: Yeah, I do. I do. I must tell you that just because. Because I don't know what it means.

Interviewer: Mm hmm.

Carter: I don't know what it means.

Interviewer: I think you like Quincy share this idea that music shouldn't be categorized, right?

Interviewer: No?

Carter: It isn't only that it shouldn't be. It's how can it be? You know, how can it be? You give you can you can categorize it. But what is this category mean? Then what? Then you've got to define the categories.

Carter: So what was this category? What is it then? What is jazz, classical? Then what is classical? So and so. So, country music. We don't have to define that. We know what that is. That's home. You know, that's that that's something else. You know, I don't.

Carter: I don't know.

Interviewer: Yeah. I'm just. I've been searching for a way, you know, with with this sort of bebop spirit that Quincy brings in that the roots he has, which go into a different you know, maybe it's not maybe we don't want to classify it as pop or whatever, but.

Carter: How how do you classify it? Maybe. Maybe you can.

Interviewer: Yeah. Well, I prefer I'm not the expert.

Carter: I know. But you you may not being the expert. Then if you're the lay listener, you can probably do it better than I can. You know. Because if I did try, I'd try to define it in what I consider expert terms or experts terms. What does that mean to the general public?

Interviewer: What did you ever listen to the Michael Jackson albums that Quincy did? What do you think of a.

Carter: Thriller? Yeah.

Interviewer: Well, we're off the wall to wall. Yeah. Did those surprise you at all in terms of what Quincy was doing? No.

Carter: No. Should it have?

Interviewer: I don't know. I know. Yeah. A lot of people thought that that was such a big departure from the pop world.

Carter: And what was required of him when he went into it? It was the gig and he knew what Michael Jackson wanted and needed.

Carter: And he provided that.

Carter: That's that's it's it's a job, you know,.

Interviewer: The sense I get is that Quincy is a great tailor.

Carter: He is, of course, he.

Interviewer: He can take you know, he doesn't try and put the same suit of clothes on everybody.

Carter: Or isn't that right. The same food and clothes doesn't fit everybody. Right.

Interviewer: Now, you think of him or.

Carter: Yes, indeed. Yes, sir.

Interviewer: Let's get for one more sec. I just want to think.

Carter: Dizzy had a style. But truthfully.

Carter: Dizzy did not belong in that category because he was more of a creator, frankly, than Quincy or Count Basie. Perhaps we're not we're not recording this. No, I don't mean say that. But in reality, you know. What's his name? Dizzy Gillespie was a creator.

Interviewer: But what we created felt impossible to attribute a certain style to Quincy.

Carter: Oh, yes. He was the creator in a different sense, but not not as a performer.

Interviewer: You know what was Quincy? How is Quincy a creator?

Carter: His Music.

Carter: You know, his music is his music and his writing style, because you've never heard him perform. Have you?

Interviewer: No.

Carter: There you are, that that's why you don't compare him with Dizzy Gillespie. I say it's a different thing. Apples and oranges, as they say. Yeah.

Interviewer: Is it possible to compare Quincy's writing style to, you know, Henry Mancini or, you know, other. I'm just trying. The trick with Quincy is he is unique. He's unlike most other people.

Carter: Listen. He is so, so unique. You can't say so unique. Unique is unique. Yeah, that's it. But he's his. He's almost indescribable. You know, it's almost ineffable as revolt's might be a pretty good word, but because he does so much and he does it all. You can't pigeonhole him.

Carter: Very hard. And he he's met success in so many different areas. What can you say about Quincy? Like like I know which I know what you're after and my lack of a. Grand vocabulary probably hindered me somewhat.

Interviewer: Nothing tangible that's not so readily tangible. Well, it's like you said, he's a Renaissance man.

Carter: Yeah. Absolutely.

Interviewer: He worked in lots, but it's unreal.

Carter: You know, there's the old expression about a guy. What is it? The. Something about something of sound. Jack, of all trades and master of none. He's just the opposite. He's master of them all. You know, that that that that and that makes it confusing, it makes it confusing, but difficult to explain. You know.

Interviewer: That's beautiful. Beautiful analogy.

Carter: Well, I'll be I'll use that quote maybe.

Interviewer: Yeah. OK. Let's try and describe something. Yeah. Yeah, just take that right there. OK. In trying to think of how to describe one. Yeah. OK.

Carter: It's very difficult to describe Quincy and his many talents. There's an old saying, oh what is it. The jack of all trades and master of none. The difficulty in pigeonholing Quincy is that he's the master of them all. And there's him also. Well, he could just do any one of them and be immensely successful.

Carter: And the people would love him, no less.

Interviewer: What about I think Quincy's perceived as a leader. You know, he's not a political leader and he he's. But people look up to him and watch what he does and try to you know, I think they see they respect.

Interviewer: Oh, he is that way.

Speaker Where do you think that comes from?

Carter: Quincy is a great leader because of the fact that so many people are prepared to follow him. So many people respect him. So many people admire him. So many people love him for the person he is, even regardless of his talents. And he's just an unusual human being. I mean, I've known all these many years and I respect him, admire him and love him.

Interviewer: That's great, Mike. Any last question from you? Oh, no.

Interviewer: I just love one last question, which is, you know, you know, the history that the Quincy worked with Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie.

Interviewer: All those guys and if you can just put into a sentence that something of the fact that you can't help if all those guys bring those different talents to you to absorb something, that then is valuable. I mean, I don't know of anyone else who worked with so many different sort of greats in the music world. So I guess the question is, can you give us a sense of how Quincy has worked with so many people? It makes sense, of course, that he can then. Take something from each of them.

Carter: Quincy has done so much with so many different people and all of them great people. And he's learned so much and they have all in turn learned from them. So I don't I don't think you can help but to have come to the point where he is with all of this experience behind him, all of this love behind him. And I love that he still gives to people.

Benny Carter
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Benny Carter, Quincy Jones: In The Pocket." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 11 Jul. 2001,
(2001, July 11). Benny Carter, Quincy Jones: In The Pocket. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Benny Carter, Quincy Jones: In The Pocket." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 11, 2001. Accessed December 01, 2021


PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.