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The Wiz is alive in Boston

Ozians Reach Musical Heights
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  June 30, 2009


This article originally appeared in the October 24, 1978 issue of the Boston Phoenix

"For many years, people have been asking me, 'Quincy, what was your very first big assignment?' My answer now is, "THE WIZ." – Anytime you have 9 singing principals, 120 dancers, 6 sound technicians, 3 conductors, 4 contractors, 300 musicians, 105 singers, 9 orchestrators, 6 copyists, 5 music editors; you are talkin' big numbers. And to think I came this close to not taking it," says Quincy Jones in the album liner notes.

"And what a cast! As Sidney says, "No accidents there." What a joy to have singers who could act!! What a diversity of styles. From Lena Horne to Diana Ross to Richard Pryor to Ted Ross to Michael Jackson (who just turned 19). Each artist had his own working way. Thelma Carpenter and Theresa Merritts' way was bringing their own brand of showbiz' professionalism. We had to work around a variety of artists with different needs and capabilities. Nipsey charmed his songs to pieces – a stone cold pro, and Diana Ross, spelled S-T-A-R, gave up every drop; singing, dancing, and acting. She was singing a minor third higher than she's ever sung in her life. Diana Ross is probably the hardest working performer I've ever worked with and just as beautiful a person," continued Quincy Jones.

He added, "There were thirty post-scoring sessions, frequently two a day, and the logistics were staggering. We used orchestras from twenty-two to ninety musicians. There was a seventy voice adult choir, thirty-five kids, and a ten voice group. We even had a forty-seven piece wind ensemble on, 'He's the Wiz.'"

"And I have to say a special thanks to Charlie Smalls, who wrote these moving, Tony Award winning songs to begin with, and for making a special effort to bring me to the film, and for giving me the freedom to work the way I know best with his 'baby.'"

"The basic concept of recording the music for the "Wiz" began with the decision to reproduce the music with as wide a frequency range and as great a dynamic range as is technically possible today. To achieve this, we decided to use the Dolby Stereo-phonic Motion-Picture Sound System. This high-quality method of reproducing motion-picture sound is becoming very popular in theaters of all sizes," added Bruce Swedien, Music Recording Engineer.

Richard Pryor is making Wiz Week very special for Boston since The Wiz himself is appearing in town at the Music Hall Oct 26-27.

In their search for an actor whose own personality was electrifying enough to allow him to portray the title role of "The Wiz," a Motown Production for Universal release, Richard Pryor was seen as the perfect choice to producer Rob Cohen and director Sidney Lumet.

Pryor, who has become world-famous for his incisive, zany and even outrageous humor, shares the spotlight in the spectacular musical movie with Diana Ross, who stars in the role of Dorothy.

  Topics: Flashbacks , Entertainment, Music, Pop and Rock Music,  More more >
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