I’m writing to you from the press center at SXSW. I have just come from a two hour, stirring keynote speech by the great Quincy Jones. Part biography, part music history, part fatherly advice, part creative inspiration, and yes, a bit of rambling, it was a wholly extraordinary experience to even be in the same room as this giant who has been a part of so much musical history. He made it clear that at 76 years old, he’s not done yet.
At the end of the speech, Q introduced his newest proteges. Teenage singer Bianca Ryan performed an impressive version of “God Bless the Child,” and then young Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez just tore the house down. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone play the instrument better in a jazz setting. He’s a remarkable talent, and you’ll be hearing from both of these people.
When I moved over to the press room, I had the good fortune to stumble into a press conference being given by the immortal band Devo. As I write this, the press conferenced is going on right behind me. The best thing about it is that the band is all in uniform, and each member has his flowerpot hat on the table in front of them.
They’re wrapping it up now, and so will I. I have photos of all of these activities, which I’ll share with you tomorrow morning.