During their short time together (1970-1971), Circle was a virtual supergroup of '70s free jazz, with the talents of Chick Corea on piano, Anthony Braxton on reeds and flute, Dave Holland on bass and cello, and Barry Altschul on drums. Circle came out of Corea and Holland's desire to do something less commercial than where they were heading with Miles Davis in the late '60s. Altschul had some previous avant-garde jazz experience from playing with Paul Bley, among others, and the three formed a trio which Anthony Braxton soon joined. Braxton had lately been making ends meet by playing chess in New York, and probably was drawn into the project not only by the quartet's rapport, but perhaps also by the possibility of relatively more commercial success on the kind of labels that would want Corea's new effort. And so the avant-garde jazz quartet Circle was born, resulting in six releases -- some on ECM and Blue Note. Even though some of these recordings were taken from concert performances (including the best of the bunch, Paris-Concert), this is still quite an output for Circle's one year. They were an exciting, intense group whose sets included compositions by each of them, as well as some very fine group improvisations, long solo pieces, and the combinations in between. By 1971, Corea had decided that he was more interested in the kind of thing that Davis was doing after all, and went on to form his own, more accessible, fusion group Return to Forever. The other three continued in the free vein, sometimes together, as on Holland's stellar Conference of the Birds with Sam Rivers, recorded a year after Circle called it quits, and in the Braxton Quartet for the next several years. ~ Joslyn Layne, Rovi

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