The band Circle was born when saxophonist Anthony Braxton joined the Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Barry Altschul Trio. Their initial recording sessions in August 1970 were totally improvised. An improvisational model developed that featured close listening, an intuitive unfolding of musical form, changing moods and speeds of playing, stylistic and textural diversity, and a harmonic spectrum bridging tonality and atonality. Anthony Braxton’s wide breadth of reed instruments, from sopranino to contrabass saxophones, helped broaden the sound palate. Eventually, Circle developed a repertoire of compositions by band members and even jazz standards, used as jumping off points for open improvisation. Circle’s collectivity encompassed not only their music making, but also business operation and personal lives, as they traveled as a commune with family members. Continuing on the road through summer 1971, the band’s music faced opposition from jazz critics, particularly on the jazz club circuit. Following Circle’s demise, Corea formed the Brazilian-tinged Return to Forever, Holland and Altschul joined the Sam Rivers Trio and at times Anthony Braxton’s ensembles, bringing with them the profound musical growth that occurred during the Circle experience.
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