Quincy Jones was considered a young prodigy before this 1960 performance in Paris. By the age of twenty-seven, he had already left two music scholarships (one at Berklee College of Music) to join Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie's Big Bands and been commissioned to write and arrange for the likes of Cannonball Adderley, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Sonny Stitt, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.
Yet, with the jazz world already at his beck and call, he decided to broaden his horizons by studying under the "greatest music teacher of all time," Nadia Boulanger, in Paris in 1957. In France Quincy could write for strings, something he was forbidden to do as an African-American artist back home and this began this career as a band leader in his own right.
In 1960, he got the opportunity to tour with a band for the Broadway show, Free and Easy, but the production went bankrupt, leaving him stranded on the road in Europe with no money, seventeen musicians to pay, and debt piling up fast. Despite it all, the group decided to stay on the road for ten starving months, playing shows like the one we see here. It marks a learning curve in the great producer's career, proving jazz to be a uniting force beyond comfort and pay checks.