March 14: International Day of Math and Quincy Jones' birthday
International Day of Mathematics — est. 2020
Eeek. Math. If you’ve been following the meandering course of this column since its recent inception, you already know that you’ll never get much more than bare-boned facts (if that) out of me when I address even a math-adjacent topic. So here they are:
The idea for this day of observance was put forth by the International Mathematical Union and adopted at a 2019 get-together of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in case you need reminding). The first official celebration took place on March 14, 2020. That specific date was chosen because it was already celebrated in many countries as Pi Day. Don’t ask me why.
Here are a couple of "oh, that’s kind of interesting" facts that might give more heft — if needed — to this annual event.
March 14 is also the birthday of that devil-may-care theoretical physicist and math wizard, Albert Einstein (born 1879) and the deathday of the somewhat similarly-engaged theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking (died 2018). Those guys new their math…
Seattle music icon Quincy Jones' birthday — 1933
Musician, composer, bandleader and record producer Quincy Delight Jones Jr. was born in Chicago on this day in 1933 and was raised in Bremerton and later Seattle, where Jones attended Garfield High School. When he was 14 he met his life-long friend and musical inspiration, Ray Charles. After studying music at Seattle University and Boston’s Berklee School of Music, Quincy joined Lionel Hampton’s Big Band at age 20 and began touring internationally.
In 1957, Quincy settled in Paris for a while, during which time he led a critically renowned big band that never quite earned the money to support itself. That’s when he decided to go into the record business.
While at Mercury Records in 1961, Quincy composed his first film score for Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker, which took him down a whole new path. To date he’s written nearly 40 film scores as well as many TV theme songs including Sanford & Son.
Out of all the great work he’s done and all the great artists he’s worked with, his collaboration as the producer of Michael Jackson’s albums Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad, probably touched the most people worldwide.
In his long and amazingly productive life, Quincy Jones has been nominated for a Grammy a record 79 times. He now shares the record for most wins (28) with cultural icon Beyoncé. Along the way he also received the NEA Jazz Masters award in 2008, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and, in 2010, the National Medal of the Arts, presented to him by President Barack Obama. All in all, not bad for a kid from Garfield.
Here’s a recording of the Quincy Jones song, "In The Heat Of The Night," from the film of the same title starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, recorded live at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1996 with Quincy, his orchestra and special guests Gerald Albright (saxophone) and Mick Hucknall (vocals).