Friday, May 4, 2018

Circle - 1971-03-04, Jazzhaus, Bremen, Germany

From the Radio Bremen archives...

Dave Holland's lumberjack phase
In the early 70s, free jazz was a little more open than it is now. And by that I mean it was something you could hear on the radio (on public radio, anyway), that major labels were investing in it and big names in jazz were trying it out. Today's share actually covers all three of these.

Circle was a short-lived group featuring Anthony Braxton, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Barry Altschul. Both Holland and Corea were fresh out of Miles Davis' band, while Braxton had just made a name for himself with the seminal For Alto. Altschul, meanwhile, had been associated with Paul Bley, himself a pioneer in the free jazz/creative music scene.

This show comes from early 1971, which I think was nearly the end for the band. By the time Paris Concert was released the next year, the group was a thing of the past. Fittingly though, this show was recorded a few weeks after that album, and two Holland compositions appear on both: "Toy Room," and "Q & A." There's also a handful of Braxton tunes, all under the heading of "Composition 6," which is the sort of thing I'd explain if I understood it at all. \

Musically, it's a little abstract, with jutting figures and sections that are rather dissonant. At the same time, there's moments where everything comes together and the band clicks. I think that throughout, Corea's on the top of his game, and Altschul's percussion adds a lot of flavour to the music. Braxton, at this point, I respect although I find  a little rambley at times, and Holland's playing is, as usual, tasteful and interesting arco textures. They actually compliment Braxton's overblowing.

Circle was a group not long for this world; Corea would move away from purely free playing and get into more mainstream stuff with Return to Forever and his duo albums with Gary Burton; Braxton  and Artschul would release some of the wildest music ever to come on a major label with his run at Arista; Holland would work as a session player (including a memorable turn on a Bonnie Raitt record) and release records on ECM.


M. Milner said...

Circle '71:

Scraps said...

I admire Dave Holland's run at leading bands over thirty years or so. There's many excellent records, to the point where I've gotten them all (I think) in regular release. The two-disc Live around ten years ago, =Extended Play=, is just awesome.