about Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis's ensemble


第6章(1)The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensemble

The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles 

by Bob Gluck(2016) 


Chapter 6 Circle 

第6章 サークル 


Some of the free music that was being played [in the sixties] was not just a need to break rules to try new things, but it was also an assertion that we have the right to do this ... And I was definitely a part of that movement, without a doubt, and so when Dave Holland and I hooked up in Mile's band we shared like minds on that idea. Then we formed our first trio and began to experiment by freely improvising ― basically the modus operandi of Circle was to freely improvise. We would have nothing set, we would have no songs set and we would go on the stage and play a complete concert ― beginning to end ― by just improvising. 








The Trio Becomes a Quartet 



On the night of May 19, 1970, when the Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Barry Altschul Trio performed at the Village Vanguard ― the same evening as the concert by Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, and Leo Smith of Creative Construction Company, at the Peace Church ― they played opposite drummer Roy Haynes's band with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Peace Church concert organizer Kunle Mwanga recounts: “After we did that concert we all went down to the Vanguard where Chick Corea and them were playing and Braxton sat in with them. That's when that connection was made with Anthony to deal with Circle.” As Altschul puts it: “Then Chick invited him up to play.” Braxton sat in, on the heels of his intense playing at the Peace Church, and a pivotal new connection was made. 



Altschul recalls that after the Vanguard show, “Braxton and Chick started playing chess together. They're both way into chess. So I don't know what kind of conversations they got into while they were playing, but then Chick brought the idea that Anthony join the group, that is the way I remember it.” Chess was at the time a central part of Braxton's life, as he has recounted: “The beauty of chess for me is that it gives a wonderful opportunity to look at structure and relationships, and intentions, and target strategies, and the relationship between target strategies and variables and objectives, and fulfilling objectives. The beauty of chess also extends into physics and pressures ... As far as I'm concerned, chess demonstrates everything.” 



Braxton wasn't the first saxophonist that Corea and Holland had considered to supplement their trio. In June 1970, Melody Marker's Richard Williams asked Holland about a “rumor that Evan Parker, the English saxophonist who was with him in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble would be joining the new band.” Holland responded: “There are no definite plans, because I haven't really talked to him about it yet, but he's definitely one of the people I'm going to be playing with when I come back [to England] ... Chick's heard some tapes of Evan that I have here in New York, and he's very interested and has expressed a desire to play with Evan. I'm hoping that we'll be able to do something soon.” 



But Braxton was ultimately their choice, as Holland recalls: “Anthony came over to talk to us and so we got together a few days later and did a few gigs. We did a concert in Baltimore ... The music was so strong.” Corea: “I remember Dave bringing Anthony to the loft to meet me and play. It was an instant match. Anthony brought a 4th dimension to the band and, a compositional / improvisational approach that gave us more material to work with along with the compositions that Dave and I were bringing in.” Holland adds: “We all came from very different directions. Anthony Braxton came from the Chicago school, with Cage's music and the theatricals ... And of course Chick came from quite a melodic Latin kind of thing and I came from England with all that stuff that's going on there, and Barry was from New York, and had played with people like Paul Bley. There's quite a wide variety of viewpoints that came to me in the music which is why it has got such a lot of attention, and I figure that we had many different directions going on.” 



Corea, Holland, and Altschul were really just coming into their own as a unit of three. Altschul observes: “Deep down inside I would have liked for the trio to stay together a little bit longer, as a trio. I loved Circle, but I was finding another place, kind of, during the trio thing, and I just really wanted to continue with that for a little more. It worked out fine [as Circle!].” Later on, in January 1971, Corea, Holland, and Altschul did record one further trio album, in the midst of an active period for Circle. This came shortly before Circle's famous Paris Concert on February 21, 1971, only three months before its demise. 




First Quartet Sessions 



In a 1973 interview, Holland described the new quartet's first experiences: “We did a lot of playing in the loft that Chick had and the first music we played was very experimental. We really just opened that up, we just broke down all the barriers and said OK, 'we'll just play with any sounds that we can find.' We used things from the kitchen, and bellows and shouting and singing and whistling, we did all kinds of things just to find out how far we could take it. And then it started to get more defined. We started to try and get a bit more precision into the music.” These sessions took place in early August 1970. The band began recording immediately, on August 13, 19, and 21, in Tom DePietro's studio near Corea and Holland's Nineteenth Street loft building. Altschul describes the time in the studio as “a totally improvised thesis. We were playing and everybody had lots of improvisational ideas. They were just flowing out of everybody. The musicians we were made the music. We made that into a music.”  



During the same period, on August 16 and 25, Corea and Holland played their final dates with Miles Davis. The shows at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the Isle of Wight Festival in England, respectively, were among the most volcanic, technologically electric, and funk infused of their tenure with Davis's band. Sonically, these concerts ― high volume, with ring-modulated electric piano and wah-wah bass ― contrasted dramatically with the freely improvisational acoustic quartet in New York! 



Expanding an existing trio, even one recently formed, into a quartet meant making space for the new member. Corea recalls: “Circle definitely began as a duet with Dave and myself. Our first trio recordings were with Barry ― and I always felt that trio as a partnership. Of course, when 'the new guy' comes in an already established setting, he's the new guy for a while until he's a full-fledged member. This never got really discussed but I think was tacitly felt. The same occurred when Anthony was briefly the new guy but certainly Circle was a cooperative music-making group.” Clearly, the chemistry expanded to incorporate its fourth member rather quickly and organically. 



Two sets of brief duo improvisations were recorded during the quartet's first formal recording session on August 13. The first pair was played by the original duo of Chick Corea and Dave Holland. The second set, by Anthony Braxton and Corea, was titled “Dance for Clarinet and Piano” (No. 1 and 2), and makes clear the new group's terms of musical engagement: open improvisation; changing moods; stylistic and textural diversity, at times tonal but next atonal; and free use of extended performance techniques. 



In its August 21 studio session, Circle recorded three improvisatory works, “Quartet Piece 1, 2, and 3,” comprising most of the Circulus album. These improvisations are exploratory, the ensemble work governed largely by intuition. Each musician creates phrases and patterns that imitate and/or contrast with his fellow musicians. Often, what they all are responding to are the nature of the sound itself and the contours of melodic gestures. A detailed description of some of the improvisations offers a window into how the band members began to explore their possibilities as a group. We can see how quickly they grew comfortable with one another's aesthetic sensibilities and performance techniques. It is difficult ― without some description ― to explain the ways that musicians use sounds to engage in dialogue. 



The opening of “Quartet Piece #1” is textural; each player selects sounds that are similar in timbre: a spinning small object, fragile bowed cello, and bowed cymbal, followed by altissimo sopranino saxophone, cello harmonics, quick piano phrases in the upper register. Sustained saxophone notes are followed by brief, interlocking, rhythmic ostinato patterns on cello and piano. These patterns grow in speed and intensity as Braxton plays a slow series of sustained notes. The textures become more atonal, pointillistic, and energetic. Braxton's solo is accompanied by piano and bass; the three musicians continue the theme of matching the kinds of sounds their instruments make. 



The concept then changes from similarity to difference when Braxton's solo picks up speed. Holland plays rapidly bowed, angular bass figures, with Altschul adding quickly muted cymbal and rapid-fire drum and cymbal hits. Next, with Holland at the fore, Altschul contrasts the arco bass with a thunder sheet and a panoply of percussion sounds. Corea's tinny string-muted piano is met by Altschul's vibraphone and temple blocks, leading to a duet for atonal piano and percussion that grows in intensity as Corea uses the entire span of the keyboard. A more lyrical, pastoral section follows, with Braxton returning on sopranino saxophone. But the next thing we know, the quartet shifts to a fevered pitch. Braxton fires off rapid, angular lines, punctuated by Holland's walking bass, Altschul's soloistic drumming, and Corea's piano tone clusters and then celeste. Repeated-note bass figures and steadily streaming drumming accompany the final section of Braxton's solo, and the piece closes with ringing bells. 



“Quartet Piece #2” is a free-for-all on a vast array of instruments, with “Quartet Piece #3” showing equal sonic diversity. 



What is most striking about these three quartet pieces is the breadth of sonic possibilities deployed by each musician and the collective sensitivity to sound, texture, and mood. Substantial technique is brought to bear, yet always in the service of the collective musical effect. The pieces move from section to section, mood to mood, always intuitively and without advance plan. The total spontaneity that emerges in this early session, quite full blown, presages the collective expression awaiting the band throughout its brief but illustrious life on concert tour. 



It is tempting to describe Circle simply as a furthering of the Corea-Holland trends within the Miles Davis band. And in fact, many of the kinds of textures and give-and-take between the duo reflect ideas they had begun in that setting. Circle's tendency toward open collective expression did extend the work they achieved in dialogue with Jack DeJohnette, but their choice of Barry Altschul and Anthony Braxton as partners set a much freer course. Altschul's drumming was oriented more toward sheer sonic experience than was DeJohnette's, although both were firmly grounded in a solid beat when desired. Braxton was oriented less toward narrative and was more explorative of sound and gesture for their own sake than was Wayne Shorter. Particularly when viewed against Miles Davis's steady move toward beat-focused music, Circle pulled the duo from the Davis orbit and directed it toward music influenced by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and late John Coltrane.