Without the exploding theorems of multi-reedist/composer/alchemist Anthony Braxton, A.R.C., the multifarious rhythm trio of Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Barry Altschul, continue the grand work of the short-lived (but most esteemed) quartet Circle on this 1971 reissue and remaster of the exploratory and free flying A.R.C.
Corea, who, after a short solo turn would soon break the realm with Return to Forever is especially feisty here, as too is Holland, who would a year hence record Conference of the Birds (ECM, 1972) with Braxton, Altschul and saxophone/flautist Sam Rivers. It isn't Circle, but then again few things were, are, or could be.
Altshcul, whose ragtime to no-time temperament puts a distinctive charge into A.R.C's six wily and loose limbed tracks, sits back in the beginning of "Nefertiti," while Corea has his way. But he's soon pushing Holland and vice versa and the horse has broken from the barn. On his first set for ECM, Holland churns as Corea races and runs. It is one of those runaway tracks that stirs the blood.
Affinity, reality, communication: those were the concepts behind the namesake, and each player is more than hip to the score, each delivering his particular nuance to the first of four Corea originals, the loosely embroidered, "Ballad for Tillie." The title track runs circles around itself, as the trio blends, breaks away, and hands the torch to the next in the relay. Borders trade, merge, blur, and dissipate on Holland's impassioned "Vedana" and Corea's closing "Games." Definitely worth a return listen.
Nefertiti; Ballad for Tillie; A.R.C.; Vedana; Thanatos; Games.
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