9 June 2008

Circle - Hamburg, March 1971 - complete concert

From our friend glmlr comes this marvellous Circle concert from Hamburg in 1971, together with this detailed write-up;

Circle was a band born in a pressure-cooker. During its brief existence (roughly mid-70 / mid-71), it played with an anarchic flair and a reckless drive, rare for that time. Chick Corea and Dave Holland were coming off a 2-year stay with Miles Davis, in which they were his first ever full-time white band members, amid the Black Power era. Driven by Jack DeJohnette, they took the music more out than at any time in Miles' life. Said Corea, "We kept pushing and playing free, waiting for Miles to say something about it. He never did, so we pushed harder". Said Miles of Corea, "Just look at the guy. Music is pouring out of him".
In May 1969, this trio had been the core of Corea's raucous "Is" sessions", (thankfully reissued properly in 2002 on a Blue Note 2CD). Hard blowing, uninterrupted, free-form, open-ended improvisations and compositions. Then, enter drummer Barry Altschul, a master of pulse and miniaturized mayhem on his carefully tuned percussion. A man who could float 60's Paul Bley on the most delicate of gauze, yet drive a powerful free-jazz quartet with the most minuscule of sounds. In April 70, the trio of Corea, Holland and Altschul recorded "The Song of Singing", a studio session which still rings with a freshness and an inherent energy which refute its years. August 70, while Corea and Holland were still Miles' sidemen, enter Anthony Braxton. Wildcard. A man with a musical conception which threatened never to allow him to be anyone's sideman, and the inventor of a musically philosophical verbal jargon understood by few members of the human race. But Circle was a co-operative band, and the four members adapted fast. The music which happened in the studio suggested serious connections to the European avant-garde or the modern classical of the time, as much as free jazz. Live, anything could happen.
The recordings. Shamefully Blue Note has not issued on CD much of the band's first recorded session with Braxton, 21 August 70, (which appeared on the "Circulus" 2LP under Corea's name), whereas much of the October 70 session (originally issued as "Circling In" also under Corea's name) has appeared on the "Early Circle" CD. In January 71, the trio without Braxton recorded the superbly crisp "A.R.C." in a German studio. Mysteriously, two other Circle LP's were issued only in Japan, one a German concert of 28 November 70, the other a New York studio session from 17 March 71. An excerpt also exists of a heated concert given in Bergamo on 19 March 71.
Live performance was Circle's forte. The finest recorded evidence is the "Paris Concert" of 21 February 71, issued first as a 2LP, then 2CD, by ECM. A vivid, thorny, raw document of the band in full-flight, whether on standards such as Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" or on Holland's own intricate twinning of "Toy Room" and "Q&A". For those old enough to remember, in 1971 this was daring music.
Looking back, it was perhaps inevitable that this band would blow itself off the stage. Stories circulated of Corea breaking a glass onstage and rubbing the microphone into the shards, band-members taking to playing any instrument at random, Holland scraping the bass strings and his chest with the mic, much use of small percussion and, in the end, a sense of alienation took over. When the band finally ground to a halt, Corea said, "We were sending our audiences up the river… ". And thus the bubble burst.
But here's the band, very much alive and well in Hamburg in early March 1971, courtesy of NDR German radio. With humble thanks to the unknown recordist / source, may you enjoy.


Circle - Live at the Jazzhaus, Hamburg
3 or 4 or 5 March 1971
Anthony Braxton - alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone, clarinet, flute
Chick Corea - piano
Dave Holland - bass
Barry Altschul - drums, percussion

1. Composition 6A - 23:17 (Anthony Braxton)
2. Rhymes - 08:10 (Chick Corea)
3. Toy Room - 07:30 (Dave Holland)
4. Q & A - 11:04 (Dave Holland)
5. Composition 6I - 22:57 (Anthony Braxton)
6. Composition 6F - 10:25 (Anthony Braxton)
7. There Is No Greater Love - 25:03 (Marty Symes, Isham Jones)
Recorded and broadcast by NDR - Norddeutscher Rundfunk.
Discographical information from Circle Discography: http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Corea/circle-disc.htm


Tantris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
1009 said...

thanks for this wonderful music & accompanying historical overview. having been about -7 years old (that's negative) at the time of this recording the context is helpful.

Kreilly said...

Chick Corea is not white, he is Latino.

1009 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hideo said...

really nice post!

Anonymous said...

corea is actually half spanish, and half italian. i don't think that equals latino, but i could be mistaken.

sotise said...

thank you both!!.. great post ,glmlr y'r reflections R appreciated.

ive also read coreas quote about the dissolution as ......"we were selling our audiences up the river.

whatever it was.. its hard to believe he changed his views so completely.. on several occasions as in that quote corea indicates , he felt they were engaged in some species of fraud/charlatanism.

he's so good on the circle stuff..
and the trio albums sans braxton.

i cant wait to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Sotise: My memory of the press comments which appeared at the time was that Corea said "sending the audiences …" not "selling the audiences… ". However, 37 year old memories are surely fallible. I suspect the more cynical, then, may have preferred the word "selling". But it's a well-known fact that at that time Corea was increasingly becoming actively involved in scientology, an element which also contributed to the demise of the band. Corea said after Circle that he wanted his music to "communicate with the people", which led to his starting the RTF band, ever since which Corea has dumbed-down his own immense abilities. A rather tragic consequence, to my mind.

centrifuge said...

we know (from lock) that *all four* band members were inducted into scientology... led by corea i think... and that the other three left it, round about the time circle was disbanded. corea stayed on of course, made a lot of money and (presumably) progressed up through the ranks... and is still writing hubbard-inspired sci-fi stuff today. hmmm

anyway... thanks to glmlr for those interesting reflections, and well done guys for getting this out there.

sotise said...

another fact that's well worth mentioning is that here we have another taped broadcast which sounds much better balanced , sonically superior in every way to the official ecm concert recording.
which was admittedly a french radio broadcast..

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this. i love this band and think that altschul is one of the most underrated and musical drummers of his time. can't wait to hear this.

two questions: is there a place online that has further information or interviews about this band? can either of those japanese releases be found online?

thanks and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

okay, i just read that circle discography for the first time and am wondering- how much of that has actually surfaced? any of the video?!? wow.

jason said...

i am only able to extract 4.5 songs out of 6- anybody else having problems? really want to hear those last songs.


1009 said...

i got them all, jason. maybe an interrupted download?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous:

Hunt about the web, and you'll find a fair degree of info about Circle and their discography etc.

As to the two Japanese releases, I have the original vinyls. So we shall have to work out a deal. A deal which begins with your ending you Anonymity.

jason said...

1009: got 'em all now. thanks.

glmlr: ok, sounds good. no more anonymity from me. my name is jason and i am a musician and music fiend from portland, oregon. and i love me some circle!

and while i'm in comment mode- are there live recordings of the "conference of the birds" band? bert wilson once told me about them touring the nw back in the day.

thanks for the music!

kinabalu said...

Beautiful! And thanks to Cent for offering a pre-listen, as it were, to comp6i which has to be my fave Brax tune. Attentive blog visitors may have noticed that this tune is also on the Moers 76 posted here previously (and on the Complete Braxton 71).

Btw, the opening tune on New York Fall 74 is a good runner-up. I haven't checked the actual comp# on it yet.

Also btw, I've got all the five Circle albums mentioned in para. 3 of the post, but it looks as if glmlr got the Circle market pretty much cornered. But in the case there is a continued interest, I'm sure we can work something out.

Volkan Terzioglu said...

thank you very much. much much appreciated.
circle's circulus vinyl is one of the albums that I got maybe 20 years ago by a trade. And I remember the surprise that came to my ears, the music, braxton, even corea. i somehow got involved with his music then but listening to circle, i thought yes this is the music I love.
thanks so much, love from istanbul

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jason, Kinabalu and Volkan for the input. If there's interest, I could put together a couple of future Circle postings, along these lines:

(1) A compilation of all the Circle tracks originally issued on the Blue Note LP's but not issued on CD in Europe or the US. (I'm not sure of what may been issued on CD in Japan). That's quite a lot of music. But see no. (2). The 17 minute live recording from Bergamo 19 March 71 (probably a radio broadcast) is also essential.

(2) Many folk apparently cannot now find the 1992 Blue Note CD "Early Circle", (BN 84465) so perhaps (1) above should be expanded to include all the Circle material from the "Circling In" and "Circulus" 2LP sets.

(3) I have a 90 minute recording by the "Conference of the Birds" quartet, (Rivers, Braxton, Holland, Altschul) recorded one day after the studio sessions which produced the ECM LP, i.e. 1 December 1972, in Sam Rivers' Studio Rivbea and playing mostly the same material. The music is great, BUT it's an audience recording in rather murky sound, so it's for hard-core enthusiasts only.

(4) The two Japan-only LP's, subject to blog-administrators' approval, since they were both released on CBS Sony Japan.

Anyway, let's leave all that for a future day, so that meantime people have a chance to enjoy this Hamburg set, as well as the other fine sounds which so regularly appear on I. Sol.

PS. Greetings from the neighbourhood, Volkan!

GBML said...

the tracks where also performed 4 months before also in Hamburg. Shure the grud did not have a very large repertoir but the same tracks 4 months later and in the same city?
(scheck out circle-1 live in hamburg, nov 28,1970 released on sony cbs sopl 19-xj (japan).
I guess i need to stady this more profund

Anonymous said...

You do. The 28 November 1970 performance is entirely different to this concert.

1009 said...

i have a favor to ask: does anyone have a scan of the cover? (i assume that the escher above is not the actual cover.) i've looked around through google but no luck so far.

Anonymous said...

1009: There is no cover! Because this set has not been commercially released. However, Tantris's selection above is rather well-chosen, don't you think?!

ubu said...

Seems that one show by the Braxton/Rivers/Holland/Altschul band is the only one around in trading circles - sound is very bad, alas.

As for Circle: I sent an email to Mosaic a couple of months ago to suggest a Circle Select, containing all those early studio dates, plus maybe to fill up time, the Corea/Holland/Altschul trio album for Blue Note ("Song of Singing", or what's it called again? I scored lucky and found a used CD of that one, but the early Circle material is pretty hard to find (except for MP3 @ crappy bitrates, that's how I have much of it now...)

1009 said...

escher is lovely, but i'm going to go w/ fredito's homemade cover, available at his truncated posting of this show:


Anonymous said...

Ubu: Correct - that's the one I mentioned above.

1009: Fine by me! I wonder if Hat consider Fredito a master of industrial espionage?

jason said...

some nice photos of braxton/holland/altschul here:

other 70's era jazz pics there too. studio rivbea etc.

centrifuge said...

thanks jason, some nice pics there... interesting to see that some of them were uploaded before they were even taken ;-) - somehow i doubt those dates are accurate!

i would certainly be interested in hearing more circle rarities... all in good time...

Slothrop said...

I'm a little late to the party here, but: Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Circle performances with which I'm well acquainted are more circumspect. This is something else entirely. It's a wonderful contribution. And to state the obvious: If you're willing to assemble more posts, Glmlr, cheers!

Michael said...

Anyone else having trouble with Rapid Share? They have a new UI with a really obscure way of showing the download key. I can't seem to get the code typed in correctly to download.

Anonymous said...

Just as an aside to the history of the band, I recall Braxton regaling us with anecdotes about Circle. He (as many are aware) was at one time addicted to Big Macs (and perhaps is still), his version of Circle's demise went something like this: Corea got into McD's, and Braxton went macrobiotic, band folded.

Anonymous said...

Hi there
I just want to extend my warmest thanks to all the people connected to/involved with this blog for the most amazing music. I'm pretty new to most of it and had previously never heard of many of the artists. I've been downloading like a demon over the last few days. Many apologies for that. I do hope you don't mind but I'm feeling a little starstruck at the moment and can hardly help myself! The more I hear the more I want to hear, ad infinitum.

You have great taste. No really, you do! Everything that I've downloaded so far, I've enjoyed (am enjoying) immensely.

I'm really looking forward to hearing this concert in all it's glory.

Once more -

Eric said...

Many thanks!

kinabalu said...

New links in high grade mp3 as originally:



Norm said...


DrEyescope said...

And AGAIN thank you!!!
Love this group.

Javier Roz said...

What a great post! A thanks kinabalu for keeping alive.

Ernst Grgo Nebhuth said...



francisco santos said...


-Otto- said...

Thanks for the re-up in lossless, EGN!