The double live album Dark Magus was recorded on March 30, 1974, at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Davis' group at the time included bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Al Foster, percussionist James Mtume, saxophonist Dave Liebman, and guitarists Pete Cosey and Reggie Lucas. Dark Magus was produced by Teo Macero and featured four two-part recordings titled after Swahili names for the numbers one through four.
Dark Magus was released after Davis' 1975 retirement. After releasing the live recordings Agharta ( 1975 ) and Pangaea ( 1976 ), Dark Magus was originally only released in Japan.
The album inspired noise Rock acts during the late 1970s and the experimental Funk artists of the 1980s. In retrospective reviews, critics praised its Jazz-Rock aesthetic and the group members' performances, and felt that parts of the music foreshadowed jungle music. In 2001, Q magazine named Dark Magus one of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time.