Eric Dolphy passed away suddenly on June 29, 1964, due to a heart attack. He was only 36 years old at the time. According to saxophonist Nathan Dabis, (Davis) one of Dolphy's former co-stars, Dolphy had seemed physically fit, and appeared to have no apparent health problems before his death. Dolphy was known to be very health conscious and always drank vegetable and fruit juices instead of alcoholic beverages, a practice he also recommended to his friends. For these reasons, when Dolphy suddenly died in a Berlin hospital, all his friends were shocked and unable to accept what had happened.
After signing a contract in Berlin to perform with Misha Mengelbelk, (Mengelberg) and also with a Dutch pianist at the Cafe Montmartre in Copenhagen, he was scheduled to take a trip to Australia as a member of George Russell's quintet. Dolphy was happy and enthusiastic about the future, which makes it saddening to contemplate the anxiety and loneliness that he must have felt facing death in a strange land far from home. These recordings were made in Munich, Germany, on December 2, 1961. According to research, this session was held at Studio 15 in Munich. At the time of the session, Eric Dolphy was taking part in a European concert tour as a member of John Coltrane's quintet. This JATP tour, under the direction of Norman Granz, was a joint package with Dizzy Gillespie's quintet. The tour began at the Gaumont State Theater in London, England, on November 11th. Engagements followed in Scotland, France, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, West Germany and Holland--with no days off! The final concert was in Berlin on December 2nd, the same day as this session. The tour was well received everywhere except in England. Bryan Armstrong, who attended one of the English concerts, said that the theater was only half full, with many audience members leaving during Gillespie's segment. By the time Coltrane started performing, very few people were left in the audience. To alleviate his boredom and help pass the time, Dolphy took some peanuts out of his pocket, and threw them in the air, catching them in his mouth. Aside from this incident, there was only one problem that surfaced during the tour. In Copenhagen, Elvin Jones was unable to perform on stage due to the fact that he had lost his passport, so Mel Lewis, playing with Dizzy Gillespie's group, filled in on drums. After the tour was over, the tracks on this CD were recorded by Dolphy, McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, and Mel Lewis in Munich. Mel played drums on the session because of the "passport" incident. This is why Lewis was thought to have played with the Dolphy group on the tour. Although the general recording quality could have been better, the musicians were well satisfied with the performances. All the tunes heard here were part of Coltrane's and Dolphy's regular repertoire at the time. Dolphy plays bass clarinet throughout, and is in rare form. It is rumored that John Lewis plays on The Way You Look Tonight in place of McCoy Tyner. We leave it up to the listener to decide!