24 July 2008

Circle - Quartet Pieces Nos. 1, 2 & 3

Following on from the recent Hamburg Concert, and with special thanks to Boromir for posting the interim Bergamo piece, we continue with Circle.

"Quartet Pieces Nos. 1, 2 & 3".
Recorded in the studio - New York - 21st August 1970.

Chick Corea, piano, prepared piano, vibes, percussion, bass-marimba
Anthony Braxton, alto, sopranino, clarinet, contrabass-clarinet, percussion, voice
Dave Holland, bass, cello, acoustic guitar, percussion
Barry Altschul, drums, percussion, bass-marimba, vibes.

These three fascinating pieces are the earliest example of Circle's other side, their work in a lifeless studio, with no engrossed audience to offer inspiration, challenge or acceptance. All three pieces were issued only on a Blue Note 2LP set called "Circulus", under Corea's name, and have never appeared on CD, to my knowledge. This rip is taken from the original vinyl, with apologies for the occasional surface noise. The music is also the first recorded evidence of Braxton playing with what was until then Corea's trio.

In the opening minute or so, the musical aesthetic promptly reveals itself to be far closer to developments (in 1970) in European-style free improvisation and contemporary classical music, rather than the conventional notions of jazz. All three pieces are open improvisations, stark, spiky, a tad austere, with a disorienting use of space, unnerving deviations, terse twists and turns. A volcanic highlight appears on Piece No. 2 at the 5 minute mark, where Corea suddenly hits upon a single note, wrings the life out of it in seconds and sends the entire band careering off in a wholly unexpected (by them) direction. All the musicians use a wider-than-usual range of instruments, e.g. Holland on acoustic guitar, Corea on vibes and Braxton's vocal contribution at end of Piece No. 2 will surely raise an eyebrow or two.

The musical results show thrilling interplay, rich in detail, and no lack of careful listening among the players. What is more extraordinary is that just three days before these recordings were made, Corea and Holland, both on electric instruments, played an explosive set with Miles at Tanglewood on 18th August and followed it up a few days later with Miles' Isle of Wight Festival appearance on 29th August in front of a mere half-million people. In between the two, they tossed us these three acoustic gems.



Tantris said...





The files are in wav format.

Thanks again to glmlr for this amazing music!

1009 said...

wow - killer stuff again, glmlr & tantris. a fascinating set & a really remarkable rip. disclaimer about surface noise completely unnecessary.

you've got me curious though, now, about miles' tanglewood set. can anyone point me to a boot of that, or has it seen an official release? aside from the fact that i love that period of miles, i also spent about a half-dozen summers at tanglewood as a stage hand for the boston symphony. (my brother works there this summer on a fellowship in piano technology.) i loved my time there -- it was a great opportunity to experience music in general, even if the bso & its administration tends to keep a pretty rigid border around what is "classical" & what is "not."

maybe a set by these guys would have changed their minds.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 1009! Glad you liked the music!

Miles' first electric phase, 1969-75? My private fetish! I came up listening to those guys, saw them live, and haven't been the same since. I felt I Sol perhaps isn't the place for that music since everyone here seems to prefer acoustic jazz, thus leaving my store of concerts by Miles' electric bands from that era without a blog-home. They're largely audience recordings of varying quality. The Tanglewood set circulates in trading circles and torrent land, and it's pretty hot! I'm confident the performance un-Tangled some of the famously-Wooden heads there! Same personnel as Isle of Wight, i.e. Keith Jarrett is aboard. It's also on a "Mega Disc" bootleg CD.

jason said...

thanks for this great sounding rip. better fidelity than my vinyl copy!! and it is some of my favorite circle that i have heard. love that band.

as for miles tanglewood- i had that show on vhs a long time ago but no longer. great performance. here are some youtube clips of it...



Slothrop said...

Thanks, Glmlr, for the great music and thoughtful overview. I had the good fortune to run across a well preserved copy of this on vinyl yesterday. I love this kind of austere stuff, but with a little one running around, I can rarely give it the kind of deep listening it really needs. Your notes helped me get to the heart of it in spite of multiple distractions. Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Slothrop. That's very nice.

I have two further Circle posts in the pipeline, and possibly a third, but none too soon. I don't want to hog the stage here among all these other fine contributors.

kinabalu said...


thanks for this one. I have the vinyl from where this came (which has more than the "pure" Circle pieces - it was credited to Chick Corea after all).

There should be a cd version of this and other Circle tunes on the Divshare server still. I did post a download of the "Early Circle" cd back on the C#9 blog - probably in one of the comment sections somewhere - can't verify that anymore.

Anyway, here is the address:




(if you can wade your way through all of that spam shit)

kinabalu said...

As for the Miles electric funk fusion stuff - yes, I'm keeping a careful eye on anything cropping up on Dime - to get what I can by the amazing Pete Cosey - who was on both of the Japan double lps. Miles, he did cook up a gumbo stew back in the day ...

Anonymous said...

Kinabalu: I don't quite follow. You're suggesting that "Circulus" has been issued on CD? To my knowledge, it hasn't, but I'm just a mere mortal and perfectly fallible.

kinabalu said...

Now, lessee. I was assuming that the "Early Circle" would carry a cross-section of tunes from both Corea BNs, but checking the sources, it appears that nine out of ten tunes are from the "Circling In" double lp and only one (Percussion Piece") is from the "Circulus" double lp. Hope that might clarify things.