Review by Willard Manus

Quincy Jones' remarkable life is explored in depth in QUINCY, the new Netflix documentary shot by his daughter, Rashida Jones, and Alan Hicks. The 90-minute film utilizes home movies, archival footage, interviews and first-person narration to portray Jones' multiple sides as musician and man.

The grandson of an ex-slave, Jones grew up poor in the black ghetto of Chicago's South Side ("I didn't meet a white man until I was eleven years old," he said). His childhood was an unhappy one: at six he watched his schizophrenic mother being taken off in a straitjacket. She was locked up in an asylum and he didn't see her again until he was an adult, and then only briefly. "Never having had a mother left a hole in my life," he confides. "I didn't realize it until I was older, but it affected my relationship to women. It also drove me to fill that void with work. I became a workaholic, to such an extent that I eventually suffered a nervous breakdown."

This isn't to suggest that Jones was a psychological basket-case. Despite his mental and physical problems--he has survived two brain aneurysms and a diabetic stroke--he has lived an amazingly productive life. He played trumpet at 22 in Lionel Hampton's band; wrote arrangements for Count Basie, Oscar Pettiford, Art Farmer and countless others; traveled in Europe with the Dizzy Gillespie band; studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris; worked as an a & r man for Mercury Records; served as musical director for Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra; composed TV and film scores (winning an Oscar in 1976 for "In Cold Blood"); produced movies ("The Color Purple"); collaborated with Michael Jackson on the best-selling record of all time, "Thriller"; and more, much more.

Jones' seventy years in music are encapsulated in QUINCY. There are numerous scenes depicting him at work, on stage and in the studio, with the likes of Sinatra, Jackson, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Dinah Washington (among many others). Another narrative thread focuses on the challenges he faced in producing the TV show celebrating the opening of the Smithsonian African-American Museum in Washington, DC. The seminal affair featured such luminaries as Gen. Colin Powell and President Barack Obama--and of course Quincy Jones himself.

Jones' professional accomplishments are well covered in QUINCY, but the film's most affecting moments come when he talks about his private life, his battles against racism, his thoughts about America, his struggle to be a good husband and father (he's been married three times and has seven children).

Jones' honesty, humor and humility, and his essentially warm, giving nature, help lift this bio-pic above the ordinary. What also makes QUINCY unique is the score he wrote for the film. Like so much of his music, it swings like mad from beginning to end.