Classics: James Ingram (with Michael McDonald) – Yah Mo B There (Full Length Version) (Qwest Reecords)
“Heavenly Father watching us fall, we take from each other and give nothing at all. Well it’s a dog-gone shame, but never too late for change.
So if your luck runs low, just reach out and call His name, His name. Yah mo b there (up and over). Yah mo b there (up and over), whenever you call…”
Quite many are those who’ve been wondering about the meaning of the title of this classic by the time of its release back in 1983. If (still) among them, don’t look any further then. As “Yah” is ther abbreviation for “Yahwey” standing for “God” in Hebrew. With the song being a suggestion to have faith when facing hard times.
Written by James Ingram, Michael McDonald (who also happens to share the vocal duties with him), but also the late Rod Temperton and Quincy Jones… ‘Yah Mo B There’ stands among those key productions by the latter. On the heels of his work for Rufus & Chaka Khan (‘Do You Love What You Feel’) and The Brothers Johnson (‘Stomp’). Not to mention Michael Jackson‘s (‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough)’. This in addition to his own ‘The Dude’ album…
Although it got him and fellow singer Michael McDonald to receive and Award for ‘Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group’, ‘Yah Mo B There’ never topped the charts though. Ingram‘s only two #1 singles being ‘Baby Come To Me’ along with Patti Austin in 1983. Then ‘I Don’t Have A Heart’, this time as a solo artist, 7 years later.
‘Yah Mo B There’ eventually received an alternative remixing treatment courtesy of John Jellybean Benitez in a different 12″ release…
– A native of Akron, OH, James Ingram moved to L.A., CA, aged 19, in search of a musical career. There, he would get his first date as a keyboardist playing for the late Leon Haywood. He soon after formed his own band (Revelation Funk) before coming to the attention of Quincy Jones via a demo tape. The latter hiring him on his 1981 ‘The Dude’ album where he landed 3 songs. But also on Patti Austin‘s ‘Every Home Should Have One’ album. With the twosome delivering the memorable ‘Baby Come To Me’ as a duet.
This would be the start of a fruitful collab, with the Dude signin’ him on his own Qwest label via Warner. Jones and Ingram eventually writing together ‘P.Y.T.’ as a part of Michael Jackson‘s 1982 ‘Thriller’ album.
Ingram delivered his debut-album – ‘It’s Your Night’ – the year after. Eventually sharing the duties (this time) with Michael McDonald on ‘Yah Mo B There’. His follow-up – ‘Never Felt So Good’ – saw the light in 1986, generating a moderate success. An album which he co-produced with Keith Diamond, himself remembered for his collaborations with Billy Ocean and Starpoint among others.
He then made a quick foray into New Jack Swing in 1989 with the Teddy Riley produced ‘It’s Real’ (from the album of the name). Eventually contributing to ‘The Secret Garden’ as a part of the Quincy Jones‘ ‘Back On The Block’ album that same year. And he also eventually ventured into soulful/House territories along with Louie Vega and Kenny Dope on the 2001 released ‘Lean On Me’. This with Jocelyn Brown and Patti Austin providing the backing vocals…
James Ingram sadly died, aged 66, from brain cancer, on Jan. 29, 2019, at his home in Los Angeles, CA.
– A St. Louis, MO native Michael McDonald attended the McCluer High School. There, he started playing with a bunch of local bands before movin’ to L.A., CA to set up his musical career.
By 1974, McDonald joined Steely Dan‘s touring band. Providing lead and backing vocals, he appeared on various recordings of the band. From ‘Katy Lied’ to ‘The Royal Scam’ and ‘Aja’ in the mid-70’s. Then ‘Gaucho’ in 1980. Eventually playing keyboards as well. Meanwhile The Doobie Brothers recruited him to temporarily replace a then sick Tom Johnson who was their lead singer. This would mark the start of a fruitful collaboration. With the man soon after becoming a permanent member of the group, contributing to some of their most memorable recordings. From ‘Long Train Running’ to ‘What A Fool Believes’ to name but a few. But also working as a session vocalist/keyboardist for countless artists around. Beginning with Kenny Loggins (‘This Is It’), but also Toto, Aretha Franklin and The Winans. Eventually sharing the duties with Patti LaBelle on the vibrant ‘On My Own’ back in 1986.
McDonald opened his account as a solo artist, releasing ‘If That’s What It Takes’ in 1982. An album which features the vibrant ‘I Keep Forgettin (Every Time You’re Near)’. With Warren G and Moloko usin’ parts of it, respectively on ‘Regulate’ and an acoustic version of ‘Familiar Feeling’. Meanwhile, ‘Yah Mo B There’, a duet with James Ingram, won the 27th Annual Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. This with production work by the likes of Quincy Jones.
Among his best recordings ever, ‘Sweet Freedom’ which appeared on the soundtrack to the Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines film ‘Running Scared’ back in 1986. But also his outstanding cover version of Marvin Gaye‘s ‘I Want You’. A song which he recorded as a part of his 1993 ‘Blink Of An Eye’ album. Although it never saw the light as a single for some reason.
McDonald has released a total of 9 albums to date. With his latest – ‘Wide Open’ – back in 2017. And he totalizes 5 Grammy Awards.
– Working on completing the updating of our data basis has never been synonymous with remaining away from what’s goin’ on. With the news of an upcoming Netflix documentary on the life of Quincy Jones sufficing enough to tickle our curiosity at the time. And eventually break the period of silence which we’ve gone thru to give it a warm welcome. This in addition to the release of a new single – ‘Keep Reachin’ – along with Mark Ronson and Chaka Khan.
Mind you, we’re speakin’ of one of the most influential artists/producers/entrepreneurs of all times. A character who, despite the countless challenges he had to go thru, has managed to… keep reachin’ against all odds.
A talented trumpeter who’s managed to become the sideman of countless stars. From Miles Davis to Dizzie Gillespie among countless others. But also collaborating with Frank Sinatra for the very first time back in 1958. And from then becoming the arranger of some of his albums. Meanwhile establishin’ a strong friendship with him. Eventually admitting Sinatra took him to a whole new planet. “I worked with him until he passed away in 1998”, he said. “He left me his ring. I never take it off. Now, when I go to Sicily, I don’t need a passport. I just flash my ring…”
An Oscar winning soundtrack composer… Remember the seminal ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ or ‘The Color Purple’ among others. And also an entertainment-industry mogul… Remember ‘Vibe’, the magazine he launched back in 1993. And most definitely a hit-maker Pop producer… Remember The ‘Off The Wall’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’ albums which he produced for Michael Jackson… As many roles he most definitely assumed meanwhile settin’ the gold standard for each.
All in all, Jones, 85, has achieved an unprecedented 79 Grammy Award nominations. And he has won 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award back in 1991. This in addition to a staggering six decades of entertaining commitment. Enough reasons to honor him and his legacy in a documentary. And who better than Rashida Jones (one of his daughters) could do it? This along with Al Hicks, an Australian musician-turned-filmmaker…
Producers describe the film as awarding “an intimate look into the life of icon Quincy Jones”. And Jones as having “transcended racial and cultural boundaries”. With his story “inextricably woven into the fabric of America.” The Dude eventually writing on Facebook that “it makes my soul SMILE to have such a dream team share my story.”
The trailer for Quincy features the likes of Barack Obama, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg,Kendrick Lamar, Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey who all credit Jones as a true inspiration for their careers.
View Trailer – Quincy: A Life Beyond Measure
View on Netflix
– A native of Chicago, IL, Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. happened to be one of a ten children family. By 1943, he and his family relocated to Bremerton, WA, where his dad got a wartime job. Then after the war, everybody moved to Seattle where Jones attended Garfield High School next to his home. Eventually developing his skills as a trumpeter and arranger at the time.
Quincy started playing with classmate Charles Taylor. And, by the age of 14, he introduced himself to a then 16 years old Ray Charles, quoting him as an early inspiration for his own music career. In 1951, he earned a scholarship to Seattle University. This with a young Clint Eastwood – also a music major there – watching him play in the college band. Then, after one semester, Jones transferred to what is now known as the Berklee College of Music, in Boston, MA.
He would soon after be given his first big break after receiving an offer to tour as a trumpeter, arranger, and pianist with bandleader Lionel Hampton.
In 1953, Jones travelled with Hampton to Europe where fellow members of the group did various recordings for labels such as Vogue in France and Metronome in Sweden. Thus helping to set up Jones’ reputation as a writer and arranger. He finally left Hampton and relocated to New York where he worked as a staff arranger for CBS Records. And in 1956, he became musician, arranger and musical director for the Dizzie Gillespie band on a major tour. He also began considering production seriously. Eventually collaborating with Dinah Washington that same year.
Jones moved next to Paris where he worked as a staff arranger for the Disques Barclay label. Studying composition and theory during his time off with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen, he recorded with Sarah Vaughan and many French artists. Then he returned to America in 1959 where he produced an album for Count Basie. He then came to sign as an artist to Mercury Records in 1961 then became the Vice-President of the label three years later. This bringin’ him to work with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan. Meanwhile he delivered various recordings on his own. Beginning with the memorable ‘Bossa Nova’ back in 1963. An album which spanned the classic ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ which Canadian Hip-Hop twosome Dream Warriors sampled eighteen years after on their classic ‘My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style’.
Jones also arranged ‘Sinatra Live In Las Vegas At The Sands’ with the Count Basie Orchestra. And by 1963, he relocated to Hollywood, CA. Becoming the first Black Jazz musician to penetrate the American film score. His film credits including ‘The Deadly Affair’, ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘In The Heat Of The Night’. But also ‘Cactus Flower’, ‘The Anderson Tapes’ and ‘The Getaway’. Not to mention ‘The Color Purple’ years after (in 1985).
As a recording artist, Jones signed to A&M Records. There, he delivered various albums between 1970 and 1981. Including ‘Body Heat’ in 1974, itself featuring Minnie Riperton on ‘If Ever I Lose This Heaven’. But also its follow-up – ‘Mellow Madness’ – that saw him collaborating with The Brothers Johnson the year after. Not to mention ‘Sounds… And Stuff Like That’ which spanned the classic ‘Stuff Like That’ in 1978. Then the multi-Grammy Award winning ‘The Dude’ three years later. An album that saw him sharing the duties along with Patti Austin on both ‘Razzmatazz’ and ‘Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me’. This in addition to the ‘Every Home Should Have One’ album which he produced for her on his Qwest Reecords label. An effort most likely remembered for the classic ‘Baby Come To Me’ that saw her duetting with James Ingram.
In 1975, Jones founded Qwest Productions, for which he arranged and produced hugely successful albums by Frank Sinatra and other major Pop figures. And three years later, he produced the soundtrack for ‘The Wiz’, the musical adaptation of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, whose feature film version starred Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.
The end of the 70’s, early 80’s saw him crafting countless classics for many artists who eventually became regular collaborators on his productions. Of course, how not to think of Michael Jackson first? This with the ‘Off The Wall’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’ albums which he produced for him between 1979 and 1987. The latter resulting in an impressive amount of classics. From ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ to ‘Rock With You’. Then ‘Thriller’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Beat It’ or ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’. And ‘Bad’ and other ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’. This in addition to ‘I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You’ featuring an uncredited Siedah Garrett. But Jones also happened to produce other artists like The Brothers Johnson. Thus givin’ birth to extra classics such as ‘I’ll Be Good To You’ (1976), ‘Strawberry Letter 23’ (1977) and ‘Ain’t We Funkin’ Now’ (1978). Not to mention ‘Stomp!’ in 1980.
An ultra in-demand producer, Jones also came to work with Rufus & Chaka Khan on their 1979 ‘Masterjam’ album. An effort which you might remember for the firing ‘Do You Love What You Feel’. With the same applying to George Benson with his 1980 album and cuts such as ‘Love X Love’, the mellow ‘What’s On Your Mind’ and its title cut. In other words, ‘Give Me The Night’. Meanwhile, I guess it’s fair to say that James Ingram partly owes him a part of his recognition. This, among others with the classic ‘Yah Mo B There’ along with Michael McDonald. With the list to be incomplete without a mention of his production of Donna Summer‘s eponymous album in 1982. The latter including the memorable ‘State Of Independence’.
Then how not to think of the memorable ‘We Are The World’?!? A project and a song in the meantime which he put together back in 1985 with the aim to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia’s famine. This with the contribution of United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa. In other words a cohort of luminaries from Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie who co-wrote the song. To Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Diana Ross and Tina Turner among countless others.
By 1989, Jones made quite a sensation while teaming up with Ray Charles and Chaka Khan on a cover version of The Brothers Johnson‘s ‘I’ll Be Good To You’. But also launching the career of a then 23 years old Tevin Campbell, this while introducing him on ‘Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)’. And pretty much boosting Al B. Sure!‘s profile as well when choosing him to sing along with Barry White, El DeBarge and James Ingram on the smooth soul suite ‘The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)’. With all these gems comin’ as a part of his ‘Back On The Block’ album with its title track featuring rappers Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, Kool Moe Dee and Melle Mel among others.
Jones would eventually gather another cohort of luminaries six years later on his ‘Q’s Jook Joint’ album in a blend of classics and new tunes. This two years after havin’ launched his own magazine by the likes of Vibe.
More recently (in 2017), Jones and French producer Reza Ackbaraly launched Qwest TV, the world’s first subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service for Jazz and eclectic music from around the world. The platform features a handpicked selection of ad-free concerts, interviews, documentaries, and exclusive, original content, all in HD or 4K.