It is exhausting to read these bios of self made men who approach life like the Tasmanian Devil, whirling away and wringing every last drop from it. Quincy pulled himself up and out of the house he shared with his father, and seven siblings, sharing a cot in a closet with brothers Lloyd and Waymond. He relaxed for the first time in front of a piano in the rec center the kids broke into to scavenge food from and was immediately hooked.
His dad took Q & Lloyd from Chicago to Seattle, moved them into a temporary house for the black Naval workers, left them with 50 cents then strode off to work. Q took to music like a duck to water, trying out all the instruments, meeting Ray Charles when Ray was 16 and Q was 14, lifelong friends looking out for each other. Q would tenaciously ask questions and ask for trumpet lessons from traveling musicians (the only scheduling slot available would be before school and after the musician’s nightly gig, so trumpet lessons at 6AM). Q got swept into the bebop world of the 1940s and soaked up lessons at the feet of the masters like Count Basie, Dizzie, Miles.
Throughout the book, Q’s thoughts are interspersed with interviews with his friends and family to have the mirror reflect a different angle on Q. His life intersected with nearly every important figure of the 20th century, including Sinatra, Tupac (his daughter’s boyfriend), Babs Streisand, Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela, the Clintons, Malcolm X, Dean Ornish, etc. etc. etc. And Q calls them all best friends, a man with the most open and warm heart according to all accounts.
He took music seriously, calling his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris the foundation of his vast composition success.
He had seven kids from five wives; in the book he connects the dots of his instability in relationships with his relationship with his mother Sarah, a schizophrenic who haunted Q & Lloyd’s lives.