about Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis's 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. 







The Impact of Marion Brown's “Afternoon of a Georgia Faun” 

マリオン・ブラウンの「Afternoon of a Goergia Faun」の与えたインパク 


One possible influence on the new quartet ― particularly its textural and coloristic explorations ― may have been Corea and Braxton's participation on Marion Brown's album Afternoon of a Georgia Faun. This work was recorded on August 10, less than two weeks before Circle's sessions at Tom DePietro's studio. Like Braxton, Marion Brown was a saxophonist who had recently returned to the United States from Paris. During the early and mid-1960s, he had been a fixture in New York's free jazz scene, playing with Archie Shepp and on Coltrane's Ascension (1965). Calm and filled with evocative sense impressions, “Georgia Faun” the tune shows Brown employing instruments and textural improvisations associated with the AACM. Braxton was thus an excellent choice to participate. For Corea, the recording was an opportunity to explore sonic possibilities in new ways, in tandem with Braxton as his new musical partner. They are joined by percussionist Andrew Cyrille; Bennie Maupin on tenor saxophone, alto flute, bass clarinet, and percussion; singer Jeanne Lee; and others 

この新たなカルテットに影響を与えた可能性のある要素の一つ(特に音楽の構造と音色作りを模索する上で)は、チック・コリアとアンソニー・ブラクストンが参加した、マリオン・ブラウンのアルバム「Afternoon of a Goergia Faun」である。この作品が収録されたのは、8月10日、サークルがトム・デピエトロのスタジオでセッションを行う前、2週間を切っていた。ブラクストン同様、マリオン・ブラウンはサックス奏者で、その直前にパリからアメリカへ帰国していた。1960年代の初頭から中期にかけて、彼はニューヨークのフリージャズのシーンにおける常連でありつづけた。アーチー・シェップとの共演や、ジョン・コルトレーンの「Ascension」(1965年)への参加も果たしている。穏やかで人の記憶を掘り起こすようなセンスに溢れる表現力により、「Georgia Faun」は、マリオン・ブラウンの楽器のこなしぶりや、楽曲全体の構造を意識しいたインプロヴィゼーションが、AACMと関連があることを見せつけている。そう考えると、ブラクストンが参加するという選択肢は、秀逸と言えた。チック・コリアにとっては、この収録を機に、音楽活動をする上でブラクストンを新たなパートナーとしてタッグを組み、音色音響について新たな手法を模索することになった。この二人に加わるのが、打楽器奏者のアンドリュー・シリル。そしてベニー・モウピンがテナーサックス、アルトフルート、バスクラリネット、打楽器。更にヴォーカルとしてジーン・リー、などといったミュージシャン達が参加する。 


Georgia Faun” opens with a “forest” of tapping sounds produced on wood blocks and other instruments, and sounds of water. Whistling is briefly heard. With a title that ivokes Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Brown describes his composition as “a tone poem. It depicts nature and the environment in Atlanta ... a percussion section that suggests rain drops ... the second section is after the rain.” Indeed, we can imagine the sound of the woods in spring ― birds whistling and woodpecker beaks knocking on trees. 

Georgia Faun」の幕開けは、「森」だ。そこから聞こえてくる様々な物を突いたり叩くような音や、水に関する様々な音が、ウッドブロック等の楽器によって演奏される。ドビュッシーの「牧神の午後への前奏曲」を思い起こさせるような曲名だが、ブラウンはこの楽曲を次のように説明している「これは交響詩だ。描くのは、アトランタの自然とその環境だ。打楽器が主導権を取る部分では、雨の滴る様子を描く。2番目の部分では、その雨があがったところだ。」まさに、春の森から聞こえてくる音がイメージできる。様々な鳥が歌い、啄木鳥があちこちで木を突く。 


At four-minute mark, we hear bell ringing sounds of metal, and clanging cymbals. Soon, a quiet humming voice appears in the distance and then the call of a hunting horn, answered by flutes and winds. Shortly before seven minutes, a soprano saxophone calls out, heralding the beginning of a strikingly simple piano solo, which begins with the scraping of the piano's bass strings, a lovely chorale in quartal harmony. These passages alternate with more pointillistic plucked strings and playing on the keys, followed by a return to the chorale. Jeanne Lee's sprechgesang (quasi-pitched speech song) joins the pointillistic piano, and soon her coloratura soprano vocalization pairs with a lyrical flute line. 



Energy levels and density of sounds increase; piano, flute, and soprano call and respond within the dense mix. Tension builds with high pitches and rapid runs, immediately returning to quiet. Lee offers angular lines, giving way to Corea's chromatic harmonies and, in a different key, a dramatic flute solo. Piano and flute engage in a call-and-response dance, the duet giving way to a return of the busy wood knocking, clicking, and whistling. Voices join and the density of sounds increases, gradually quieting down as the piece concludes. 



Overall, the music is lush and evocative, presented with conviction by musicians sensitive to the nuance of open improvisation. The spare, textural qualities of the improvisation reflect the kind of heightened mutuality and sensitivity to sonic and gestural nuance characteristic of Circle in its finest moments. The band's more textural treatments of Braxton's composition, variously titled “73 degrees Kelvin” or “Composition 6F,” discussed below, provide examples. 

全体を通して、この音楽は、華やかで、人の記憶を掘り起こすようであり、それを届ける自身に満ち溢れたミュージシャン達は、オープンインプロヴィゼーションのニュアンスをしっかりと表現できる感性を持ち合わせている。無駄のない、構造がしっかりとしたインプロヴィゼーションの質の高さは、ある種の高度なお互いのやり取りの仕方と、音質や表現の微細さに対する感性の良さ、そういったものをよく反映していて、これは、サークルが最高の演奏を繰り広げた時に見られる特徴そのものである。ブラクストンの書いた曲をこのバンドが演奏する時は、より曲の構造をしっかりと作ろうしている。以下、その例をご紹介しよう。曲名も様々で、「73 degree Kelvin」「Composition 6F」となっている。 





Circle: Open Improvisation and Musical Form 



The spontaneous organic nature of Circle's music was the core of its musical endeavors. This was no doubt one of the reasons that more traditionalist critics found its music challenging. Chick Corea observes: “To me, Circle was a pretty straight-ahead experiment and joy in improvising new music ― music with little or no pre-arranged form. The results had their absolute highs and lows. 



Each of the band members had core experiences to draw from regarding how to engage musically with others in an intuitive manner. Barry Altschul had performed with Paul Bley and Anthony Braxton with various AACM groups, including his own. Chick Corea and Dave Holland drew from their experiences with Miles Davis. Corea: 




Miles, with Herbie [Hancock], Ron [Carter], Tony [Williams], and Wayne [Shorter], had already established ways of breaking the song form down into little pieces or no pieces at all. It was very refreshing and inspiring to the rest of us ― and always will be. The freedom to play a set way or to not play the way was and is the ultimate freedom of choice and freedom of expression. Miles had already demonstrated that he wanted to free himself up from “forms.” So when Dave and I joined the band, songs like “Dolores,” “Agitation,” “Paraphernalia,” and even the standard ballads like “Round Midnight” were all being treated very, very freely. With Dave and Jack [DeJohnette] and encouraged by Wayne, we took it even further “out.” 


マイルスは、ハービー・ハンコックロン・カーター、トニー・ウィリアムやウェイン・ショーターらと共に、既に様々編み出した方法により、一つの楽曲形式を、細分化したり、それ以上に跡形もなくしてしまうようなことをしていた。私たち全員にとって、いつも新しい気分を味わい、そして創造力を刺激される機会だった。それは今後もずっとそうであろう。あらかじめ決められた方法で演奏するか、それともそういった方法では演奏しないのか、これは、今も昔も表現の自由の中でも究極のものだ。すでにマイルスは、音楽のあらゆる「形式」から自由になりたい、という姿勢を打ち出していた。なので、デイヴ・ホランドと私がこのバンドに加入した際は、「Dolores」「Agitation」「Paraphernalia」それから「Round Midnight」のようなスタンダードバラードさえも、全て、非常に自由にさばいていた。デイヴ・ホランドジャック・ディジョネット、そしてウェイン・ショーターにも後押しされて、私達はそれを更に「枠外へ」と推し進めるのだった。 


When the initial trio ― and then quartet ― began its first sessions, it was with an open mind as to what might unfold. Corea recalls: “At first, Dave, myself, then Barry, then Anthony made no decisions on form at all. The decisions were to begin playing ― then end playing.” Slowly, basic ideas regarding how to guide musical direction emerged. Corea: “After doing this for some time, we began to impose some loose form to differentiate one 'piece' from another. Sometimes they were just a set of verbal directions ― an idea of how to change tempo or start or stop a section.” 



One excellent example of the band's use of open forms is the first quartet piece included on the album Circling In: Holland's “Starp,” recorded on August 19, 1970. This piece opens with a theme constructed from several long phrases, each separated by a brieff pause. The four musicians play at a rapid clip, synchronized closely in rhythm. Some brief parallel play between Corea and Braxton leads to a winding piano solo. Corea moves easily between extended lines and brief phrases, which suggest being caught in a thicket yet always finding an escape route. A brief transition crafted by Corea and Holland leads to Braxton's solo. 

このバンドによる、オープン形式を用いた素晴らしい演奏事例が、アルバム「Circling In」に収録された最初のカルテットの為の作品である。デイヴ・ホランドの「Starp」は、1970年8月19日に収録された。この作品の出だしの主題を構成するのは、いくつかの長めのフレーズで、それぞれが短い「間」で仕切られている。4人の奏者が演奏する細かな音符で早いパッセージは、リズムの面でよくシンクロしている。チック・コリアとアンソニー・ブラクストンによる短い同時演奏が何度かあり、これがうねるようなピアノソロへと続いている。チック・コリアのメロディは、長めに奏でられるメロディの数々や、いくつかの短いフレーズの間を縫うように動き、それはあたかも、藪に絡みながらも抜け道を常に見出している、そういわんばかりである。チック・コリアデイヴ・ホランドによって作られた短いブリッジにより、アンソニー・ブラクストンのソロへと続いてゆく。 


Altschul remains in contrast motion as Braxton plays, as Holland contributes steadily energetic angular lines ― some of them repeated two- or three-note figures. Holland changes speed suddenly and with urgency, at times building tension by creating a holding pattern through insistent repetition, then releasing it with a rapid stream of notes. After staying briefly out of the fray, Corea returns behind Braxton ― alternately matching and contrasting in force and energy ― with a kaleidoscopic array of tone clusters and chord fragments played in alternating hands, expanding into cascading gestures, before again withdrawing. Holland solos, backed largely by Altschul, who playfully tosses the bassist's rhythmic patterns back at him. A sustained note by Braxton leads to isolated rhythmic strikes by Corea, and then a very spare Altschul solo, which abruptly concludes the piece. 



The opening segment of Braxton's solo (beginning at 1:08) demonstrates a tight, intuitive structural logic within the saxophonist's playing. Note the alternation of three types of motifs: an opening phrase that functions like a call seeking a response, a grainy gutbucket saxophone sound ( “growl” ), and five angular phrases, sometimes incorporating a sustained note, that serve as the response to the opening call. The solo subsequently continues until 3:15, increasingly enmeshed with the playing of his partners. 




The opening segment of Anthony Braxton's solo in “Starp,” 1:08 - 1:35 


1:08 - 1:10 

Braxton “call” phrase ― lyrical gesture ending w/upward leap 

1:11 - 1:15 

atonal “response” ― angular phrase #1 

1:16 - 1:17 

growl #1 

1:18 - 1:20 

angular phrase #2 

1:20 - 1:23 

sustained note with timbral inflection and angular phrase #3 


growl #2 

1:25 - 1:28 

angular phrase #4 


growl #3 

1:29 - 1:32 

angular phrase #5, more frenzied and winding 

1:33 - 1:35 

growl #4, transistioning into a sustained tone 























The quartet's approach to collective improvisation demanded everyone's complete attention. In many cases, one of the musicians would generate a melodic or rhythmic cell, which is open to examination and exploring for its implications. Implicit in the kind of musical gestures a musician would play is a series of “questions” each band member would need to unconsciously ask at every moment. What kind of support or challenge should the others provide? Should additional material be offered or exchanged? Does an evocative moment require punctuation? Is there a space to fill, or, alternately, a silence to respect? Band members indeed held discussions following their performances. Yet these kinds of questions require no explicit discussion; they are the bread and butter of a successful performance: while an individual might instigate activity, tension and release is built communally. Mysteriously and effortlessly, the music all comes together, intuitively and in the moment. 



In essence, the band's name embodies its process orientation, as John Mars observes: “I think of Circle as like a round table with the four of them all around it. You put each guy at his place around the circumference of this table ... all facing each other ... Decisions were made in a 'conference' in a hair trigger of a second with all those groups. When you play like that, there's a little wire hooked up between your heads.” 



Indeed, Circle functioned as a collective. This was a value strongly felt by the entire band, as Corea relates: “I like to be in a group where everyone is free to express themselves freely ― musically and otherwise. It's an ethic that matches the 'equal rights' aspect of the music I love to be a part of.” Altschul notes: “We would discuss the music the minute we came off the set. We went into the back room, discussed the music, and then left it alone. But we talked about what we did, what we didn't do, what's happening, what wasn't happening, all that kind of shit. That was the height of the music, and the tapes show it. Fabulous ... It was everything collective. Everyone had a job to do in the band: librarian, business ... we were also kind of a commune. We were on the road together with our families ― those who had familes ― and we cooked, we had little cookers with us, bought fresh vegetables and brown rice and shit. And anyone who wanted to eat meat, that's what they did, but still, we were all like a family. So, we were very tight.” 



As Circle continued to develop, an unpredictable logic arose from the shared chemistry and history. Altschul: 




When you're playing music where you're relying on each other for the forms that the music becomes, an E.S.P. develops. And the more you do it, the more it develops. It's like any other method. So what then comes into play is your musical vocabulary, and how many places you can go to and how many moods you can set up. We went to Dixieland! There are places where we jumped into some Dixieland shit. You know? So whatever we went. Everyone had a vast musical vocabulary, and everybody was familiar with each other's vocabulary, because everybody's vocabulary, a lot of it was the same. Not necessarily the same concept of the vocabulary, but the vocabulary ... We tried to play fresh every time. The only thing that would have been a kind of a form, though it wasn't thought of as a formulated thing, was within the concept of tension and release. The release used to seem ususally to fall into a time thing. 




One of the band's conscious goals, whether playing off of composed tunes or more freely, was to avoid habits and cliches. For Chick Corea, this had been a priority in his career up to that point: “The direction that I was headed was upwards to a way of being and creating that was free of categories and analysis. When I heard the music of Bud Powell, I was inspired by his musical freedom ― he seemed able to become the music when he played. Monk was the same ― he expressed a complete freedom of personal expression. The same with Bartok's compositions ― the way they broke new ground and fused new elements together.” Barry Altschul had incorporated this way of thinking into his own playing: “As a matter of fact, as part of my development as a drummer, there was a period where if I was to play a Philly Joe Jones lick in my playing, I would say to myself, 'Oh that's Philly Joe, that's not you ― change it.' So, I think it was the same kind of apporach. It was, 'Oh, I used a cowbell on a place ― on a texture like this ― let me play something else.' I didn't think it, but it was an instinct.” 



The Miles Davis Lost Quintet also placed a high value on spontaneity, but might we view Circle's difficult-to-attain ideal of “if you've done it before, don't repeat it” as taking this a step further? 






Circle's Use of Compositional Materials and “Tunes” 



Early in the band's history, written compositions were adopted, at least as boosters to spur improvisation, “almost from the beginning of the formalized band,” as Altschul notes. “Everybody started [composing] ― that was a lot of the rehearsals, getting people's concepts of their compositions down. I was the only one who didn't write, and they all encouraged me to write. I started writing after Circle. But they all encouraged me to write. Everybody was writing, always, from the beginning.” Corea adds: “We always [throughout our time playing together] occasionally used a written composition ― as in a series of notes and/or harmonies ― as a start point.” 



Soon, the band began to integrate more of a metric pulse into its improvisations, to complement the more rhythmically free music of the early sessions. At this point, compositions became useful to spark improvisation, as Corea recalls: “In our desire to have more form in terms of variety of melodies, variety of rhythm, and especially in the desire to have some music begin to groove again, we brought in the program some song forms. It was fun to approach these, at this point in the band's development, from the other direction ― coming from playing free-form music to music with a form. As you can hear, our approach to these songs was extremely loose.” 



Altschul clarifies: “In other words, when the tunes were written, it wasn't so much to adhere to a structure, to a form of a song. There was not a song form: it was improvised to the concept that this melody or rhythm conjures up.” Nonetheless, “we were very well rehearsed, we were very tight, and at the time, how we improvised just fit together in that style. It just was.” Even when an improvisation began with a conventionally organized tune, those structures could break apart from that pretty quickly. Elements of the tune's melodic or rhythmic structure remained in the minds of the players and would resurface, as Altschul comments: “If you listen to it real close, no matter how out everyone goes ― maybe they'll come in on the two instead of the one, or something like that ― the form is back there somewhere.” 



This freewheeling approach to tunes was witnessed by composer Neil Rolnick during one of the band's spring 1971 performances: 




I heard Circle at Jazz Workshop in Boston. The first night, I was so blown away that I came back for the next five nights or so and heard every set they played. What amazed me was the seamless integration of clearly rehearsed and worked-out heads with what seemed like completely free improvisation. They would play very angular, fast, well-coordinated tunes, then seem to drop off into outer space, and then ten or twenty minutes later (or so it seemed) drop back in for a recap of the head. It was just completely mysterious to me, and I loved it. 





The concept of “improvised to the concept that this melody or rhythm conjures up” articulated by Barry Altschul was also a feature of Miles Davis's Lost Quintet. The compositions would segue from one into the next when Miles played a snippet from the latter as a cue to move on. Some tunes began with a recognizable opening: the melody of “Sanctuary,” the bass and drums vamp of “Directions,” or the thematic motif of “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down.” “Bitches Brew” could begin with one of several of its elements described earlier: Chick Corea playing the repeated low Cs or Davis playing the “staircase” motif. Once a tune was under way, the ensemble could treat these materials freely, particularly during the final year of the band. The sonic events of “Bitches Brew” were the most malleable. Vamps such as the “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” theme evolved over the months. Circle continued the notion that arose in Miles's band, that fragments of materials could be used playfully during improvisations. But as we shall see, it took the concept even further. 

「メロディにせよリズムにせよ、それがいつしか瓦解してしまう、そしてコンセプトだけが残る、そんなところまでインプロヴィゼーションをかけてしまう。」バリー・アルトシュルが説明するこの考え方は、マイルス・デイヴィスのロスト・クインテットの特徴でもあった。予め譜面に書き起こしたものが、次の段階へとゆっくり移ってゆくのは、マイルス・デイヴィスが他のメンバーが演奏しだしたその後で、小さなモチーフを「動き出せ」の合図として発信するときだ。楽曲によっては、一聴ですぐに分かる出だしのものもある。「Sanctuary」のメロディや「Directions」でベースとドラムがその場で紡ぎ出す伴奏、「Miles Runs the Voodoo Down」や「Bitches Brew」のメロディぽいモチーフ、こういったものは、既に発表された別の曲の中ででてきた「部品」の中から、曲の取っ掛かりとして選ばれることもあった。それは例えば、チック・コリアによる低音域のハ調のコードの繰り返しや、マイルス・デイヴィスによる「Staircase」のモチーフだったりする。こうした様々な素材を、バンドは、ある曲が始まると、自由に使い出す。特にこのバンドの最後の1年の頃は、顕著な現象だった。「Bitches Brew」では様々な音のやり取りが繰り広げられたが、最も柔順なものとなった。「Miles Runs the Voodoo Down」の主題に添えられた、伴奏チームの繰り出す様々な「ヴァンプ」は、何ヶ月にも亘る公演期間の間に、どんどん変化発展を遂げていった。マイルス・デイヴィスのバンドの中から生まれたこのやり方を、サークルは引き継いだ。様々な素材の断片は、インプロヴィゼーションの間遊び心満点に使い倒された。だが、聴いて分かる通り、コンセプトだけは、ずっと維持されたのである。 


Throughout their days on the jazz club and concert circuits, Circle's set list also included tunes drawn from the broader jazz repertoire. These were used more as instigators for improvisation than to provide formal structures for organizing those improvisations. The two main tunes of this kind are “Nefertiti” and “There's No Greater Love.” 

サークルの演目リストは、ジャズクラブや舞台での演奏の時代の間ずっと、膨大なジャズのレパートリーからの楽曲も含んでいた。こう言った楽曲の数々は、インプロヴィゼーションを更に煽り立てるために使用されることが多く、インプロヴィゼーションをキチンとした形にするべく、何かしら目に見えるような骨組みをもたらす、そんな役割を持つことは、あまりなかった。「煽り立てる」役割を担ったとされる主なところを、2つ挙げてみよう。「Nefertiti」と「There’s No Greater Love」である。 


“Nefertiti” was a regular piece in Circle's repertoire. First recorded by Corea and the trio on The Song of Singing, it is a Wayne Shorter composition from Miles Davis's 1967 album Nefertiti. The Marty Symes-Isham Jones standard “There's No Greater Love” was a favorite vehicle within the Circle repertory, showcasing how malleably the performance of a jazz standard could move between straight-ahead playing, free-ranging solos, and highly textural abstraction. It received highly extended treatments, from seventeen and a half minutes at the conclusion of the Paris Concert, to twenty-five minutes at Hamburg. A twenty-one-and-a-half-minute version at Iserlohn, Germany, from November 28, 1970, runs the gamut of possible ways this band could address a jazz standard, from remaining close to the chord changes, invoking them, ignoring them, and using the spirit of the tune as a departure for open improvisation. Corea, Braxton, and Holland deliver extended solos, followed by a saxophone and drums duet, each its own composition, yet serving as one portion of a larger, integrated whole. 

「Nefertiti」は、サークルのレパートリーの中でも、良く演奏される曲である。まず、チック・コリアとトリオによって「The Song of Singing」に収録されたこの曲は、マイルス・デイヴィスの1967年のアルバム「Nefertiti」に収録されている、ウェイン・ショーターが作った楽曲である。マーティ・サイムズが作詞をし、アイシャム・ジョーンズが作曲をした「There’s No Greater Love」は、サークルのレパートリーの中でも人気の一品だ。ロックの影響を排除したジャズの演奏、自由に展開するソロ、高度な組み立て方をした抽象的な演奏表現、そういったものの中で、彼らがジャズのスタンダードを演奏すると、こんなにも柔軟かつ順応性満点にやれるんだ、ということを、まざまざと聞かせてくれる。この曲は完成度を高く保った状態で、長時間の演奏時間を費やした。パリ・コンサートでは締めくくりの曲として17分半、ハンブルクでは25分だった。ドイツのイーザーローンで11月28にから行われた公演では21分半。この時は、このバンドがジャズのスタンダードを演奏する際の、持ちネタをずらりと勢揃いさせた。コードを変化させる際に1オクターブの中に収めたままにする手法や、それを無視したり発動したり、元歌のエッセンスをオープンインプロヴィゼーションのきっかけに使ったり、と繰り出してゆく。チック・コリア、アンソニー・ブラクストン、それにデイヴ・ホランドが長いソロをきかせると、次はサックスとドラムのデュエットが続く。2つとも、それぞれが独立した楽曲であるのに、大きな全体のその中の一部としての役割をはたしているのだ。 





New Beginnings 




The idea wasn't to start out and play free; the idea was to play this music. It wasn't about playing free, or playing avant-garde, or anything. It was that there's this concept of playing music, and we are going to write music to stimulate those concepts. 






For Anthony Braxton and fellow Circle members, the second half of 1970 promised to be a heady time. The saxophonist looked forward to his new musical associations, and Circle was to open new creative opportunities. As he later recalled: “The most fundamental axiom that I grew up with was the importance of finding something of your own, and when that happens, either everyone can hear it or they can't. Fortunately for me, many of the musicians and percussionists I hoped would be open to my music were, in fact, open to it.” 



Circle's initial recording sessions bore fruit, and it began performing in public in the fall of 1970. The “jazz pedigree” of its two recent alumni of Miles Davis's band paved the way for bookings across the American and European jazz club circuit. Barry Altschul: “We had an agent in America who was out in California, and she booked the circuit. She was getting us gigs. We consider ourselves jazz musicians, [who played] on the circuit. At that time, I'm not sure if Braxton did or didn't consider himself [a jazz musician], but we were on the jazz circuit. We played the circuit, and we were asked back. We played some concerts too.” 



Altschul continues: 

[Chick's presence was helpful in the booking of the band.] Yes, we knew his name power was stronger than ours. Chick himself wanted to make it Circle, where his name wouldn't seem that [out front], because it was a cooperative band. But yes, we all were aware of his publicity. He was out there. I mean, he was with Miles at the time. A lot of attention was on him, let's put it that way. So sure, we talked about it, we said, “Yeah, let's use it,” of course. Chick and Dave ― 'cause when they were playing together ― people were wondering what was happening; what happened after Miles. So we were aware of that. 





Indeed, as we will see, Corea and Holland's reputation was a double-edged sword. Their association with Miles Davis brought opportunities to Circle, but often led critics to place highly conventional expectations on the band. This is of course ironic, given the unconventional nature of the Lost Quintet; in the popular imagination, Davis remained the trumpeter who created Kind of Blue in 1959 and, maybe, the 1960s quintet. There was little relationship, in other words, between what critics were looking for and the actual highly unpredictable, open musical presentation that Circle offered. It treated tunes that critics expected to hear, whether from the Miles Davis repertoire or jazz standards, no less broadly than it did its own members' compositions. The band traveled with a large amount of gear, suited to create a wide range of musical sounds and textures. Altschul recalls: “We had two cars. We drove. There was a time I was carrying almost twenty cases of instruments. That was just the percussion shit ― not counting the bass, the cello, the guitar, and all the saxophones.” 

この後お読みいただくように、チック・コリアデイヴ・ホランドの評判は、諸刃の剣といったところだった。マイルス・デイヴィスとの縁のおかげで、サークルには次々と活動の機会がもたらされた。だがそのことは、往々にして評論家達にとっては、このバンドには型にはまった演奏を期待させる原因にもなった。皮肉な話である。なぜなら、ロスト・クインテットは「型破り」なバンドだからだ。音楽ファンの多くのイメージとしては、マイルス・デイヴィスとは、依然として、1959年に「Kind of Blue」を世に送り、1960年代にクインテットを率いたトランペット奏者であった。別の言い方をすれば、批評家達がサークルに見出そうとしていたものと、サークルが世に見せつけた、実に完成度が高く予想外が連発するオープン形式の演奏と、ほとんど何も関連性などなかったのだ。サークルは批評家達が期待する曲を扱ったが、それは、メンバー達の自作曲を扱うよりも幅広く、マイルス・デイヴィスのレパートリーだの、ジャズのスタンダードナンバーだのを採り上げた。このバンドがツアーを行う際は、膨大な機器を持ち運んだ。これによって、幅広い演奏上のサウンドと曲の作り方が可能になった。バリー・アルトシュルはこう振り返る「私達は移動の際は、車を2台出した。運転は自分達でした。時には私は、楽器ケースの数が20個位になることもあった。それも打楽器関連だけでの話だ。ベースやチェロ、ギターや、アルトだテナーだといったサックス群は別にして、である。 


Among Circle's early shows was an extended stand at the Lighthouse, in Hermosa Beach, California, from September 29 through October 11, 1970. These concerts coincided with the first tour of the retooled Miles Davis band: Dave Holland had been replaced by funk-oriented bassist Michael Henderson, with Keith Jarrett continuing on electric keyboards, Gary Bartz on saxophone, and Airto Moreira on percussion (supplemented by Jumma Santos). A couple weeks earlier, Chick Corea had made a studio recording, The Sun, with Holland and two former colleagues from Davis band, Jack DeJohnette and Steve Grossman. Circle's Lighthouse appearances were followed by a jazz workshop it held at the University of California, Irvine. 

サークルが初期に行った公演活動の中には、1970年9月29日から10月11日という長期間に及んだ、カリフォルニア州ハーモザ・ビーチの「ライトハウス」での出演があった。これは、メンバーが入れ替わったマイルス・デイヴィスのバンドの最初のツアーと時期を同じくしている。デイヴ・ホランドの後釜には、ファンク出身のベース奏者マイケル・ヘンダーソンが入り、キース・ジャレットは引き続き電子ピアノを、サックスにはゲイリー・バーツ、そして打楽器にはアイアート・モレイラ(ジャムマー・サントスが更に加わっていた)。これに先立ち、2,3週間ほど前には、チック・コリアが行った「The Sun」のレコーディングには、デイヴ・ホランドと、マイルス・デイヴィスのバンドで一緒だった2人の元メンバーであるジャック・ディジョネットとスティーヴ・グロスマンも加わっていた。サークルは「ライトハウス」での出演に続き、カリフォルニア州立大学アーヴィン校で行われたジャズのワークショップへ参加した。 


While Circle had many positive experiences during its tours, the Lighthouse shows were neither well received nor well attended, as a Down Beat reviewer reported: “The Lighthouse reported a noticeable drop in business as the Chick Corea Quartet, known as Circle, followed Joe Henderson. The diet seemed to be too avant-garde for the Hermosa Beach crowd.” Remaining on the West Coast, the group appeared at the Both/And in San Francisco on October 17-24. A month later, Anthony Braxton performed without his bandmates as part of a multimedia performance, “Communication in a Noisy Environment,” in New York on November 19-20. 

サークルはツアーにおいては、数多くの経験を得たものの、「ライトハウス」での公演は、客受けも集客数も振るわなかった。「ダウンビート」誌のある評論担当記者は、次のようにレポートしている「チック・コリアの率いたカルテット、通称「サークル」は、ジョー・ヘンダーソンに引き続き、「ライトハウス」の舞台に立つも、興行的には明らかな右肩下がりを示す結果となった。ハーモザ・ビーチに集まった観客達のテーブルに出される料理としては、彼らは少々アヴァンギャルド寄りだったようである。」サークルは引き続き西海岸にとどまり、10月17日~24日にサンフランシスコで行われた公演もこなした。1ヶ月後、アンソニー・ブラクストンは、マルチメディたパフォーマンスの一部として、他のメンバーを伴わずに公演を行った。「Communication in a Noisy Environment」と銘打ったこの公演は、ニューヨークで11月19日~20日に行われた。 


In later November, Circle embarked on an extended European tour that took it to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. A November 28 show in Iserlohn, Germany, was recorded by German radio for broadcast and released on a Japanese label as Circle 1. Following these quartet dates, Braxton made a piano recording, and in early January played his own concert in Paris. 

11月下旬、サークルはヨーロッパへの長期間のツアーに出る。行き先は、ドイツ、オランダ、ベルギー、そしてフランスだ。11月28日にドイツのイーザーローンで行われた公演は、ドイツのラジオ局によって放送され、日本のレーベルで「Circle 1」としてリリースされる。ブラクストンは、サークルでのツアーに続いて、ピアノでの演奏の収録に取り組み、翌1月初旬には、パリでの自身のコンサートを開催する。 


On January 11-13, 1971, the original trio without Braxton recorded A.R.C. for ECM Records. The album's title is a term in Scientology that means “affinity, reality, communication,” said to be the components of understanding. Corea had recently become involved with Scientology and took inspiration from its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. 



In early February 1971, Braxton recorded The Complete Braxton, which included three duets with Corea; Holland and Altschul appear on three other, quartet tracks (with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, but not Corea). Also included on the album are two solo saxophone pieces, one multi-tracked, and a work for five tubas. The recording, made in London on February 4 and 5, represents the beginning of Braxton's string of LPs on the Arista Freedom label. The compositions are drawn largely from Braxton's 6 series, which may also be found in his repertoire with Creative Construction Company and Circle. Complete simultaneously represents a summation of his earlier work and an opening to what was to come in the next decade. 

1971年2月初旬、ブラクストンが収録した「The Comptele Braxton」には、チック・コリアとのデュエットが3曲、他の3曲にはデイヴ・ホランドとバリー・アルトシュルも加わってカルテットでの演奏になっている(トランペット奏者のケニー・ウィーラーが加わっているが、チック・コリアは入っていない)。またこのアルバムの収録曲の中には、無伴奏サックスのための作品が2つ(内1つはマルチトラックレコーディング)、そしてチューバ5重奏曲が1つある。2月4日と5日にロンドンで行われたこの録音は、その後アリスタ/リーダムのレーベルでの一連のLP制作の口火を切るものとなった。収録曲の多くは、ブラクストンの「6」と銘打った作品群からであり、彼がCreative Construction Companyやサークルで演奏したレパートリーにもありそうなものだ。「The Comptele Braxton」は、同時に、彼が音楽活動を始めてからここまでの総括であり、同時に、次の10年の幕開けでもあった。 


Circle's only widely released recording, The Paris Concert, was made later that month, on February 21, at Maison De L'ORTF. The concert had its logistical challenges, as Barry Altschul remembers: 




We went through an aggravating time just before that ... They wouldn't let us in, 'cause we didn't have our badges with us. We were standing next to our posters saying, “Look, it's us! It's us!” and the security wouldn't let us in. Finally, the promoter came looking for us ― and I think he fired that security guard ― because eventually the concert was forty-five minutes or an hour late, by the time we started. And then we had guests with us. We had people from America that were with us and we had a guest list and everything, and they didn't let the guest in. Security ― the same thing. So we went onstage and we announced to the audience the situation, and we're not gonna play until we see our guests sitting in the audience. So this was while we were on the stage just before we started playing. So that's how we approached that concert. And that was supposed to be the concert everybody talked about. 




The band was back in Germany in March 1971. Shows documented by radio broadcast and recording include concerts at Jazzhaus in Hamburg (March 4, Norddeutscher Rudfunk [NDR]) and in Bremen (March 5, Radio Bremen). A third German concert may have taken place, followed by shows in Italy. A March 19 performance at Third International Jazz Parade at Bergamo was both radio broadcast and recorded. I have heard only fragment of the Bergamo show, a recording of “Neferititi.” 



In April 1971, Anthony Braxton performed in Paris while Chick Corea made his own solo piano recordings for ECM. Circle was back on tour and in the studio at the end of that month, including the Jazz Workshop in Boston in early May; the Village Vanguard in New York; a recording session for the multi-section, extended work The Gathering at Upsurge Studios in New York, and a stand at Slugs, the East Village jazz club. 

1971年4月、アンソニー・ブラクストンはパリで公演を行う。この間、チック・コリアECMで自身のソロのレコーディングを行った。同月末に、サークルはツアーとスタジオ収録活動を再開した。5月初旬にはボストンのジャズワークショップでの公演、ニューヨークのヴィレッジヴァンガードではマルチセクションのために行われたレコードセッション、ニューヨークのアップサージスタジオでの大作「The Gathering」の制作、そしてイースト・ヴィレッジの名門ジャズクラブ「スラグス」での本番 等である。 


The band returned to California for its final shows in the summer of 1971. Two of these took place in early July at the Both/And in San Francisco and in early August at Shelly's Manne Hole in Los Angeles. Not one to spare criticism of the group, critic Leonard Feather observed: “Their voyages of discovery are liable to create singularly hypnotic moments of unity, followed by atonal passages that are notable more for the intuitive intergroup communication than for their comprehensibility.” In summary, while impressed by the virtuosity, Feather expressed disappointment: “Circle's music represents a certain eclecticism, a straining for totality of sound experience that loses some of its emotional impact in the process.” 









The life of a touring ensemble is rarely a long-term affair. Circle and the trio that preceded it had a yearlong run, a respectable length of time for a band that brought unconventional music to mainstream commercial venues. According to Corea, “It ran its course as so many high-spirited and creative groups of artists do. We had a good run and made some memorable recordings. There came a point where our musical goals went in slightly different directions.” For him, “Circle was a deep and meaningful part of my life. My musical association with Dave has always been dear to me. We seemed to spur each others' inclination towards musical discovery and freedom of musical expression. There was always a great joy in our duet improvisations. This was the spirit that became Circle with Barry, then Anthony.” 



Perceptions between band members often differ, and such was the case with Circle. Altschul: “There was tension toward the end, yes. The music that we were playing, we wanted to continue to play; Me, Dave, and Anthony, but Chick was changing. We didn't realize at the time. There was just tension in the band. But when it [the music] was happening, it was really great. We had an audience, and for us at the time, it was enough. We would have liked bigger audiences, but the Jazz Workshop was full up every day of the week when we played there.” 



Braxton believed that some level of conflict is an inherent and unavoidable part of musical life: “We already have some very interesting music and it's very nice to work with Chick. It seems to me ... that once we started travelling and touring we lost something. Relationships in different situations tended to have too much stress, the personal relationships, but with this band we seem to have good personal relationships and this is very important when you're travelling. We have a desire to understand each other ― seemingly, and it's important. I mean, it definitely wouldn't 'hurt' the music if musicians liked each other!” 



Interpersonal challenges may have contributed to Circle's demise, but these are more the concern of a gossip magazine than the present musical study. Whatever the exact source of Corea's changing interests and sensibilities, his musical plans were changing. After a stint with Stan Getz, he formed the first Brazilian-tinged Return to Forever. The pianist's interests were in transition to a simpler presentation that was more accessible to audiences. Dave Holland continued to keep one foot in the aesthetics of Circle, joining Sam River's band, and the other in more straight-ahead jazz, joining Stan Getz in 1975 (along with Jack DeJohnette and pianist Richie Beirach).  



Holland felt that were it not for the conflicts, Circle could have continued musically and economically: 




Well, that particular group [Circle] I think could have survived had we stayed together. You see there were enough people who knew who the people in the group were, so we were assured of a certain number of people coming to hear us. With the right kind of handling of a group of that kind, and with enough travelling, you could cover yourself between albums that you might do. You could go to Europe for the summer, doing concerts over there, coming back to make it to a university, doing things like that. We had a very large following from young people, partly from the fact that they knew Chick and I from Miles, and had heard some of those albums, and wanted to come and find out what we were doing on our own. And the music seemed to appeal to them, it wasn't just idiom that we were using, it was the feeling that we produced as a group.” 




But it was not to be. Holland and Altschul became two-thirds of Sam Rivers's band, and for a time worked as Braxton's rhythm section. Altschul: 




So Anthony goes back to Chicago and then I think goes back to Europe. I go back to New York, and Dave goes up to Seattle for a while and then his wife was pregnant, so they went up there for a while, and then they came to New York. While I was in New York for the first year I was there, I got a gig ― I took Billy Cobham's place with the Paul Winter Consort. I'm on their album Icarus. It was before [Dave Holland's] the Conference of the Birds. And it was a great gig because they only went to colleges on weekends. So that was good for what was happening in my life at the time. And I was also playing with Sam Rivers, but I couldn't really leave town at that time, so the weekend thing was cool. And Sam Rivers's thing included Cecil McBee playing bass. So then Dave comes back to New York, and eventually I hook Dave up with Sam, and that becomes the trio. 


そんなわけで、アンソニーはシカゴへ戻る、その後ヨーロッパへ帰っていったんじゃないかな。私はニューヨークへ、そしてデイヴはシアトルへしばらく逗留し、奥さんが妊娠されたから、またしばらくそこに居て、その後ニューヨークへ行った。私が初めてニューヨークに居を構えた最初の年、ある本番に出演する機会を得た。ビリー・コブハムの代打で、ポール・ウィンター・コンソートに参加したのである。彼らのアルバム「Icarus」に私も関わっている。(デイヴ・ホランドの)「Conference of the Birds」より前の話だった。素晴らしい本番だった。というのも、彼らは週末に大学へ行くだけだったのだ。当時私の身の回りで起きていたことを考えると、都合が良かった。私は同時に、サム・リヴァースとも一緒に演っていたが、当時はニューヨークを離れることができず、週末のことは、非常に良かった。そして、サム・リヴァースのバンドには、ベースにセシル・マクビーがいた。その後、デイヴ・ホランドがニューヨークへ戻ってくる。私はデイヴ・ホランドとサム・リヴァースとを引き合わせて、これがトリオとなってゆくのだ。 


Altschul continues: “And then Anthony comes back [from time in Chicago and then Paris], and says he wants to form a quartet with me and Dave and Kenny Wheeler. And we said, 'Okay!' So we are working both ends [simultaneously with Rivers and Braxton's bands] at the same time.” What was first called the Sam Rivers, Dave Hollandn Barry Altschul Trio was renamed the Sam Rivers Trio, a collective improvisation ensemble in which “whoever had the most creative energy could dictate the direction ... We gave up our egos to the music ... Any given night there were no compositions, nothing, just the trio improvising. Everybody was a composer.” Ultimately, Holland and Altschul felt the need to choose between Rivers and Braxton, “and we both decided to go with Sam ... because it was closer to more of our musical experience. Braxton's was more written out, more compositional ... And then Braxton went and became Braxton; he was already Braxton ― he became more Braxton.” 



Braxton and Holland would again cross paths with Jack DeJohnette when vibraphonist-educator Karl Berger formed Creative Music Studio and began to run workshops in Woodstock, New York, in 1972. The organization was established in conjunction with Ornette Coleman. Berger, Braxton, Holland, and DeJohnette, all living around Woodstock, were among its core master teachers. Berger developed a curriculum based on his experience teaching at the New School. The principles similar in spirit to Circle's: improvisation that was not limited by genre or stylistic concerns. 



Looking back on his experience with Circle, Holland concluded: 




And this is something that I've noticed happened with the music, is that no matter what kind of music you play, it doesn't matter what the style, if the spirit is in the music, if there's really a spirit in the music, it communicates to people. The people sense that, and we really had a unified feeling going on for a while, and people immediately caught fire because of it. They saw what happened on the stand, which made them feel good just by virtue of the fact that they could see that kind of closeness and communication and love between people was possible. The music kind of represented that, and so that took them beyond the idiom that we were working with, whether we were using strange or common sound, it didn't seem to matter, it just could relate to the feel of it. So in that sense, I think survival means that, survival means flowing. Survival means doing, and I think Circle was doing and was flowing while it existed.   




But long-term musical survival also engages economic issues. Circle was never going to be able to inhabit the economic world of Miles Davis's bands. Chick Corea's change of direction had economic implications in that it gradually moved him into a more mainstream position in the music business. Anthony Braxton's, Barry Altschul's, and Dave Holland's choices solidified their connection with a more informal, less commercial and thus economically marginal musical enterprise. Examples of musical collectives that have remained economically viable for longer periods of time are rare. The Art Ensemble of Chicago will be discussed briefly in the pages that follow. The Revolutionary Ensemble, one of the most economically marginal yet long-lasting groups, is the focus of the next chapter.