Legendary record producer and conductor Quincy Jones talks with Damian Woetzel, the former Principal Dancer with the New York City Ballet, about what it was like working with Frank Sinatra in 1950s.
An impresario in the broadest and most creative sense of the word, Quincy Jones’ career has encompassed the roles of composer, record producer, artist, film producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, TV producer, record
company executive, magazine founder, multi-media entrepreneur and humanitarian. As a master inventor of
musical hybrids, he has shuffled pop, soul, hip-hop, jazz, classical, African and Brazilian music into many dazzling
fusions, traversing virtually every medium, including records, live performance, movies and television.
Celebrating more than 60 years performing and being involved in music, Quincy’s creative magic has spanned
over six decades, beginning with the music of the postswing era and continuing through today’s high-technology, international multi-media hybrids. In the mid-50’s, he was the first popular conductor-arranger to record with a Fender bass. His theme from the hit TV series Ironside was the first synthesizer-based pop theme song. As the first black composer to be embraced by the Hollywood establishment in the 60’s, he helped refresh movie music with badly needed infusions of
jazz and soul. His landmark 1989 album, Back On The Block—named “Album Of The Year” at the 1990 Grammy Awards— brought such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis together with Ice T, Big Daddy Kane
and Melle Mel to create the first fusion of the be bop and hip hop musical traditions; while his 1993 recording of the critically acclaimed Miles and Quincy Live At Montreux, featured
Quincy conducting Miles Davis’ live performance of the historic Gil Evans arrangements from the Miles Ahead, Porgy
and Bess and Sketches of Spain sessions, garnered a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance. As producer
and conductor of the historic “We Are The World” recording (the best-selling single of all time) and Michael Jackson’s
multi-platinum solo albums, Off The Wall, Bad and Thriller (the best selling album of all time, with over 50 million copies sold), Quincy Jones stands as one of the most successful and admired creative artist/executives in the entertainment world.
Damian Woetzel was a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet and frequently performed internationally as a guest star and visiting artist with numerous companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, until his retirement from the stage in 2008. Woetzel currently serves as the Director of Arts Programs for the Aspen Institute, the Artistic Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, and as the Founding Director of the Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Program. Woetzel is also active as a director and producer outside these roles. Among his recent projects, Woetzel produced and directed an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center for the World Science Festival, directed the first performance of the White House Dance Series, which took place in the East Room of the White House and was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, and co-produced the tribute to legendary ballerina Natalia Makarova as part of the 35th annual Kennedy Center Honors in December 2012. Woetzel also works with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Connect program in the New York City Public Schools, and has twice directed culminating year-end performances; at the Museum of Natural History in 2010, and for the Central Park SummerStage series in 2011. Woetzel was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities by President Obama in 2009. In July 2012, Woetzel was honored with the inaugural Gene Kelly Legacy Award - an award jointly created by the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Estate of Gene Kelly in honor of the 100th anniversary of Kelly's birth - for his contributions to the arts as a ballet star and director of dance and music performances.