In his illustrious career, Quincy Jones had seen it all – or so he may have thought before he came across Emily Bear. Only 11 years old, Emily is one of the most astonishing musical talents of our time – composing, orchestrating, and performing in a bewilderingly diverse collection of styles. Some of her huge talent will be on display in the appropriately-named album Diversity, her first album for Concord Records/Quest Records, which Jones produced.
Diversity was recorded at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles - the same Studio that Quincy recorded his Back On The Block album and Bad with Michael Jackson, thus passing on the torch of a mighty tradition to one of the youngest members of a new musical generation. Using her own jazz trio handpicked by Quincy, Emily demonstrates both her versatility and an open-hearted melodic soul at the piano, writing all of the selections herself.
“She’s the most delightful human being I’ve ever met in my life,” Quincy says. “And her music is the same way. I am at once astounded and inspired by the enormous talent that Emily embodies. With the ability to seamlessly move from Classical to Jazz and Be-bop, she shows as much musical prowess as pianists/composers twice her age, and I am thrilled to be working with her. She’s astounding, man ... she’s astounding. She plays like she’s 40 years old. She is the complete 360-degree package, and there are no limits to the musical heights she can reach.”
On Diversity, Emily shares several of her reflective mood compositions (among them “Blue Note,” “Alika,” “Jessie’s Song” and “Tutti Cuore”) and demonstrates her ability to get down with a Latin feeling in the rhythm section (the catchy “Hot Peppers” and self-explanatory “Salsa Americana”). There is a specific Spanish flavor in “Peralada” – inspired by the Catalan city where she first performed this piece at a music festival – and utilizes her classical technique to a tee in “Reflections.” “Northern Lights” is the piece for which Emily won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition Award at the age of 6. And “Q,” of course, refers to the nickname of Emily’s producer, which after a heartfelt slow intro, turns into a jaunty jazz-trio tribute to the ever-youthful spirit of her mentor.
Emily plays all of her music from memory – even 45 page classical concertos. “I memorize them (the notes) pretty quickly,” she says, adding modestly, “then it’s all about polishing the details.” George Gershwin and Debussy are currently her favorite classical composers. Her jazz favorites include Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, and, of course, Quincy Jones. Emily says working with Quincy is, “absolutely amazing. He’s so special in every way and he’s so fun to work with. He’s about the best mentor anyone could dream of.”