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Album Review

November 05, 1995|Robert Hilburn

QUINCY JONES, "Q's Jook Joint"; Qwest (*** 1/2)

The collective works of the guest singers and musicians on this strikingly ambitious album would alone fill half of a fair-sized record shop. Among the soul, jazz, pop and rap cast: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Gloria Estefan, Babyface, Chaka Khan, Barry White, Phil Collins, Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman and Queen Latifah.

Yet the album's vision clearly belongs to Jones. The master arranger-producer's musical class and commitment are reflected in the album's rich and often surprising turns, which range from the good-natured Charles-Wonder-Bono teaming on "Let the Good Times Roll" to Estefan's seductiveness on "Is It Love That We're Missing?"

The title and the music's "dance and make romance" tone are both odes to the music tradition associated with rural roadhouses that were a key component of the social life of Southern blacks in the first half of the century.

But the title could also be "Self Portrait," because the music very much suggests a journey from Jones' big-band past to his current hip-hop admiration. Along the way, he revisits songs, introduces new ones and even presents new artists (a showstopper vocal debut by 19-year-old Tamia).

Though the album's contemporary edge could have been sharpened by some hip-hop radicalism, this is a stylish collection.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent).

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