In 1970, the Chick Corea trio with Dave Holland and Barry Altschul became the co-operative quartet Circle with the addition of Anthony Braxton. This unique and often brilliant quartet was so co-operative that it was inevitably doomed by the strong individualism and creativity of its members. Just before its demise in 1971, Braxton recorded a double album for Freedom Records that featured duets with Chick and a quartet of Dave, Barry and Kenny Wheeler.
Circle crumbled, leaving behind a legacy of recorded works on CBS in Japan, ECM in Germany and Blue Note in the United States. Ironically, it was the Braxton quartet with Kenny, Dave and Barry that lasted intermittently until 1976.
The first three pieces on this album capture that group riding the crest of its last year. During that hot summer in Europe, Anthony was worried about the fate of the group. There were practical problems such as Kenny living in London while the others lived in or around New York and the fact that Dave and Barry had overlapping commitments with Sam Rivers, Paul Bley and others. More than that, Anthony felt that this was the time for a change. After six years, he felt that this group had reached its peak as a vehicle for his music and as an integrated performing quartet. The group disbanded soon after its triumphant Montreux appearance, although Anthony knew that he would be playing with these three men in the future.
It was indeed time for a change, but what? During the latter part of 1975 and the early months of 1976, Anthony experimented with many outstanding musicians in his quartet, but nothing felt right for his music and nothing gave him the security and the inspiration that he sought. It was during this period that he recorded the ambitious Creative Orchestra Music album. This album was not only the realization of a dream for Braxton, but also an easy avoidance of developing a new permanent working ensemble.
In preparation for that recording, Anthony and I planned to fly in from Chicago a young trombonist named George Lewis. We had never heard him play, but Roscoe Mitchell and Muhal Richard Abrams had been boisterously singing his praises to both of us for quite some time. His ensemble work and solo work lived up to our expectations. After that recording session, we often speculated about his trombone replacing the trumpet chair in Anthony's group.
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