How many young people know that legendary multi-hyphenate composer and producer Quincy Jones hails from Chicago? Additionally, how many younger generations know that he’s the genius behind works ranging from Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, the soundtrack for the movie The Color Purple and the theme song for the iconic 1970s show, “Sanford and Son.”

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Nicole Clarke-Springer is hoping to reintroduce a new generation to the creative mind of Jones with their latest stage production, Q After Dark.

“For the dancers, some of them are so young, they’re, like, ‘Who is this?’ And I’m thinking, what planet are you on?” Clarke-Springer told The TRiiBE on Nov. 2. “I had to remember there’s a whole ‘nother generation that may or may not know, or realize they know his work.”

Q After Dark will make its world premiere on Nov. 5 as a one-night-only tribute to Jones at the Auditorium Theatre, located at 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $69, and are available at AuditoriumTheatre.org.

Deeply Rooted is a Chicago-based, African-American contemporary dance company. Q After Dark will feature choreography by the company’s artistic team; which includes Clarke-Springer, Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott, Creative/Executive Director Kevin Iega Jeff, and Joshua L. Ishmon. 

Trumpeter Sam Thousand, formerly known as Sam Trump, will lead a performance of live music. The evening will also include a company premiere of Vespers by choreographer Ulysses Dove. 

The night also includes an excerpt of poetry from Madonna Anno Domini performed by Clarke-Springer featuring music by Culoe De Song and Aretha Franklin.

The program ends with a revival of “Aisatnaf,” choreographed by Jeff, in which a woodland creature frolics to composer Lee Holdridge’s “Ballet Fantasy for Strings and Harp.

Clarke-Springer talked with The TRiiBE about the first segment, emphasizing her love of all things Quincy Jones.

[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.]

The TRiiBE: This is a very, very interesting and exciting event. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Q After Dark and what attendees can expect.

Nicole Clarke-Springer: Q After Dark is a project that we started this summer. I was a huge Quincy Jones fan and I have been one since, I think, birth. My father and my brothers are musicians. My mom’s a singer. Our family is in art. And I grew up hearing all kinds of music; [including] Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield and Quincy Jones. There have been some very precious and beautiful memories attached to this music.

I’ve always wanted to do something; a work or some sort of homage to [Quincy Jones] and honor and tribute to him. He is one of our greatest Chicagoans. He is a huge humanitarian, just extraordinary — the quintessential visionary. Deeply Rooted had a number of ballets that are choreographed to his works and so I thought, “Why not?” 

I think we’re the perfect company to honor him in that way. And so we just sat down and started brainstorming about what we could do. I thought it has to be live music and then to have his collaboration with Sam Thousand, this beautiful trumpeter. He’s put together this amazing orchestra; it’s just an honor to have it held at the Auditorium Theatre.

You’ll hear some of his well-known pieces like “You’ve Put a Move on My Heart” by Tamia; “Stomp!” by Brothers Johnson. All those will take you back to whatever precious memories you may have of Quincy Jones.

What are two or three of your favorite Quincy Jones songs?

NC-S: Let’s see. I have to go with “Summer in the City” because that’s one of those that has been used by so many hip-hop artists and samples. The whole Color Purple soundtrack was amazing to me. Anything from The Wiz because that’s my 7-year-old self speaking. There are so many other songs. There’s his version of “Everything Must Change.”

Joshua L. Ishmon, Company Apprentice Alyssa McCallum, and Briana Arthur. Photo by Michelle Reid

Is part of the reason for the production to let people know just how vast his influence was, and has been?

NC-S: Exactly, and what I find now even just outside of the studio space, and creating this work with our artistic team and the dancers, [is that] we honestly have reintroduced Quincy Jones to a whole new generation. First of all, for the dancers, some of them are so young. They’re like, “Who is this?” I’m thinking, What planet are you on? I had to remember there’s a whole ‘nother generation that may or may not know, or realize they know his work. So it’s been really wonderful just exposing an entire new generation to his work and introducing them to this amazing man.

And what do you think this particular production says about Deeply Rooted?

NC-S: I think it says that we’re open to expanding not just our repertory, but how Deeply Rooted looks. For so many years, we were a repertory company with concert dance. And we very rarely get to have the opportunity to collaborate and have an orchestra playing live music. That’s something that’s generally reserved for ballet companies and, you know, white companies, especially those who have that budget to have an orchestra,

So I think it shows that we are looking to grow and expand artistically. We have a piece called “Goshen” that we did last year that was collaborative with [gospel music songwriter, producer and artist] Donald Lawrence, and had live music. 

And if you could talk with Quincy right now. What would you say to him?

NC-S: I would just thank him. I would thank him for the body of work that he’s given us, thank him for the example of being a humanitarian and how to use the work to better the world. Thank him for just being the example that he is so that I can become a better artist and artistic director.

Is there anything else you want people to know about the show?NC-S: Just come with your dancing shoes. Come have fun. Come ready to have a party!

is the Digital News Editor for The TRiiBE.