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5 June 2011

Chick Corea / David Holland / Barry Altschul - 'A R C' (ECM)

Ah, the C's have provided us such great and underrated jazz bassists - I've already written at length about David Izenzon, and Holland has been wonderful in both of his appearances (here, and in the Paris Concert LP by Circle, a band which is identical to this one except for the addition of Braxton). The ARC trio, though, is quite a different language from Circle, despite such similar personnel and even opening with the same song, Wayne Shorter's 'Nefertiti'. This version is somewhat more lyrical, though with such a sunny tune it's hard to downplay the lyricism; maybe the difference is more from the studio setting vs. the big stage of the Paris concert hall. Corea is top-billed and very much the star of this trio, which is why I file this under Corea, Chick. His four compositions only hint at the fusion/Scientology sound he's known for, and express a much more free (if less individual) language. Side two gets into more experimental territory - 'Thanatos' actually has this weird doppler effect volume change that make the tune feel like an eavedropping, and 'Games' is just that - a bursting ball of interplay that is pretty fun. Holland's own 'Vadana' is a beautiful piece, and though he stays underwhelming throughout this record he's as solid as ever. Altschul gets one solo in the title piece, 'A.R.C.', which is tom-heavy and slightly highschooltalentshowish. If you can tolerate the triangular all-caps liner notes, you can learn a bit about Scientology and reality; one wonders how much the other guys were going along with this. This is one I cite when defending ECM, a label whose early work is pretty great, and see my gushings over Afternoon of a Georgia Faun if you need more proof. This mid-afternoon sunny day was made all the merrier by the several moods of A R C, though I'm really now thinking that I should find a copy of Conference of the Birds before I get to the H's here. (I think I have plenty of time).

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