Circle was a band on fire with creativity. Corea and Holland had just left Miles Davis' band, keen to explore all parameters of new music in an improvised context. Braxton, equally inspired by Stockhausen and Coltrane, brought in new directions from the AACM. Altschul's resume included extensive work with Paul Bley. Together they were, for a while, matchless.
The short-lived Chick Corea outfit outdoes itself in this 1971 live recording. A delicate piano intro primes us for an extended rendition of Wayne Shorters Nefertitti to start. Once Braxton throws himself on top of incoming bass and drums, however, what began as contemplative awakening quickly turns into a spastic jaunt into more upbeat territory. The gnarled unity of the quartet paints in bold strokes, all the while flirting with total breakdown. Braxtons perpetual motion and uncompromising tone make a superb tune out of a great one. Song For The Newborn gives Holland a moment in the spotlight. Swaddled in all the innocence of its title and bound by a mature sense of structure, this is an engaging interlude to the Braxton/Corea duet that follows. Coreas frenetic style in the latter works its way through a host of rhythmic options before settling into a row of block chords. Braxtons heady phrasing tears a page from the book of Coltrane, while his solitary diversions crackle with the urgency of a broken mirror, as yet unframed by the bastion of mundanity. Altschul delights in Lookout Farm, in which he dives headfirst into his percussive arsenal. The tinkling of icicles and cowbells in an open field give way to an extended solo, thus providing ample segue into 73 degrees Kelvin, a beautifully convoluted organism that could only come from the mind of Braxton. Below its cacophonous surface pulsates a vast network of instrumental veins, through which flows the passionate immediacy that is Circles lifeblood, and from which Hollands rapture sings with detail and imagination. Toy Room Q&A (Holland) boasts Corea in notably fine form, leaving plenty of elbowroom for Braxton to flex his reeds. The freer aesthetic crashes in on itself by the end, leaving us craving a familiar foothold. This, we get in the standard No Greater Love, capping things off with notable turns from all.
Corea busts out with some of his most captivating fingerwork, proving himself finely attuned to the mechanisms of his caravan at every rest stop along the way; Braxtons Pharaonic sound titillates the ear; and one could hardly ask for a tighter rhythm section at ones side. As a collective unit, Circle doesnt so much make music out of as inhabit its raw melodic materials. This recording is a lasting testament to a vibrant formative period for ECM. The audiences enthusiastic reactions give the listener the feeling of being present in the making of history.
Audiophile High Quality Pressing
From The Original Analog Tapes
Limited Time Download Code
Printed in Germany
Chick Corea, piano
Anthony Braxton, reeds, percussion
David Holland, bass, cello
Barry Altschul, percussion
2. Song For The Newborn
2. Lookout Farm / 73 Degrees Kalvin (Variation - 3)
1. Toy Room - Q&A
1. No Greater Love
Recorded on February 21, 1971 at the Maison de l'O.R.T.F., Paris