In early 1964 two of the jazz greats, Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy, joined forces on a European tour that represented a shift in the development of African-American music. The bop, swing and New-Orleanean leanings of Mingus were giving way to a freer, more challenging style, and the tonal harmony embedded in Dolphy's compositions had become more abstracted, more angular. This mirrored a widespread rejection of convention amongst jazz musicians determined to stretch their art and reclaim it from the commercialization of the Big Band Era.
Recorded in the small city of Liège, Belgium, the performance demonstrates a high watermark in the career of both artists. Together, they were part of one of the greatest sextets in jazz history (though the sudden collapse of trumpet player Johnny Coles a few nights earlier had reduced them to five) and for this show they combined over three galvanizing themes, continually walking the fine line between sheer freedom and complete control. Mingus leads on the bass with Dannie Richmond on drums, John Arthur "Jaki" Byard on piano, Clifford Jordan on tenor and the magisterial Dolphy on alto sax, flute and bass clarinet. The film is particularly emotive as Dolphy prematurely passed away just a few months after finishing the tour.