My Obsession for “Summer in the City”

How a song has transversed many genres and ages.

Quincy Jones

I will try to tell you the story of how my fascination with this song has developed through time.

I want to do it in the chronological order of my discovery process, that is different from the true chronological order in which different versions or sampled inclusions have been created.

If you don’t want the full story but you just want to listen to the tracks, you will find the Spotify playlist I have put together specifically for this at the bottom of this page.

My fascination with the song starts from the initial 24 seconds of “ Summer in the City” from Quincy Jones 1973 album “You’ve Got It Bad Girl”, I always found that intro to be the coolest/hip piece of music ever played (debatable I know) in the jazz scene from the 70s.
Vocals are by Valerie Simpson.
Quincy won Grammy Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental Or A Cappella.

MUSICIANS / PERSONNEL:
Valerie Simpson — Vocals
Dave Grusin — Electric piano
Eddie Louis — Organ
Grady Tate — Drums
Chuck Rainey — Bass
Written by John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian, Steve Boone
Produced by Quincy Jones & Ray Brown

With a jump of many years and moving our attention to the UK scene (Warp Records!) in the 90s, I found the first three albums of George Evelyn from Leeds, Nightmares on Wax, that all start with a track that contains the intro of ‘Summer in the City” from Quincy Jones in some shape or form.

a. Nights Interlude in A Word of Science: The First and Final Chapter (1991).
b. Nights Introlude in Smokers Delight (1995).
c. Les Nuits in Carboot Soul (1999).

The first on from 1991 is using a full sample (yep that was happening in 1991) without even asking consent to Quincy.
The 1995 version contains a mix of samples and played instruments.
The 1999 version contains a 52 elements orchestra playing it.

There is a cool interview with George where he goes in details about how he sampled the track in the different versions and his relationship with Quincy.

As I was researching more, I found that the most famous sampling of the Quincy Jones track is back in the US by the hip hop group The Pharcyde in their 1992 debut album Bizarre Ride II in the track “Passin’ Me By”.

The song was the second single released from the album.
The song, produced by J-Swift, also samples “125th Street Congress” by Weather Report, and “Are You Experienced?” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The original song is from 1968, very different from the Quincy Jones version and very well known in rock history.

I am not covering the original version in this context, there is a lot of information online, and a great New York Times article:

In his 1976 double album “I Heard That!!” Quincy jones again included a slightly different and longer version of “Summer in the City” notably including street voices and noises at the start.

Love this version!

I also found this other extensive sampled use of the Quincy Jones track on Jay-Z feat. Lil Kim — Summer in Brooklyn.
I just found it on YouTube not on Spotify.

There are other versions of the original Lovin’ Spoonful song, you can find them online.
If you want to check where it was sampled (a lot!!!) check this page:

I am sure i have made mistake and missed a lot of information, please let me know!

Another article that expands on this track:

--

--

@CDM / Chief Evangelist @deltatre

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store