Quincy Jones & Band – I Dig Dancers
At the age of 19, Jones traveled with Lionel Hampton to Europe and said it turned him upside down, altering his view of racism in the US.
It gave you some sense of perspective of past, present and future. It took the myopic conflict between just black and white in the United States and put it on another level because you saw the turmoil between the Armenians and the Turks, and the Cypriots and the Greeks, and the Swedes and the Danes, and the Koreans and the Japanese. Everybody had these hassles, and you saw it was a basic part of human nature, these conflicts. It opened my soul, it opened my mind.
In 1956, Jones toured again as a trumpeter and musical director of the Dizzy Gillespie Band on a tour of the Middle East and South America sponsored by the United States Information Agency. Upon his return, Jones signed with ABC-Paramount Records and started his recording career as the leader of his own band. In 1957, Quincy settled in Paris, where he studied composition and theory with Nadia Boulanger and composer Olivier Messiaen. He also performed at the Paris Olympia. Jones became music director at Barclay Disques, a leading French record company and the licensee for Mercury Records in France.
During the 1950s, Jones successfully toured throughout Europe with a number of jazz orchestras. As musical director of Harold Arlen's jazz musical Free and Easy, Quincy Jones took to the road again. A European tour closed in Paris in February 1960. With musicians from the Arlen show, Jones formed his own big band, called The Jones Boys, with eighteen artists. The band included double bass player Eddie Jones and fellow trumpeter Reunald Jones, and organized a tour of North America and Europe. Though the European and American concerts met enthusiastic audiences and sparkling reviews, concert earnings could not support a band of this size. Poor budget planning resulted in an economic disaster; the band dissolved and the fallout left Jones in a financial crisis. Quoted in Musician magazine, Jones said about the ordeal,
We had the best jazz band on the planet, and yet we were literally starving. That's when I discovered that there was music, and there was the music business. If I were to survive, I would have to learn the difference between the two.
Irving Green, head of Mercury Records, helped Jones with a personal loan and a new job as the musical director of the company's New York division. There he worked with Doug Moody, who founded Mystic Records.