On January 6, 2013, Barry Altschul, who was born in the south Bronx and first started playing the drums on the local hard bop scene in the late 1950s, celebrated his 70th birthday. He is also quickly approaching five decades as a professional musician as his first “proper” gig was with the Paul Bley Trio at the inauguration of Slugs’, the (in)famous East Village bar, as a jazz club in 1964. In addition to playing with Bley, Altschul was active on New York’s bourgeoning free jazz scene of the 1960s, working with the likes of saxophonist Steve Lacy, trombonist Roswell Rudd as well as bassists Gary Peacock, Alan Silva and Steve Swallow and even performing with the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra. His familiarity with the tradition also led to performances with saxophonists Sonny Criss, Johnny Griffin, Lee Konitz, Art Pepper and Tony Scott, pianist Hampton Hawes and vocalist Babs Gonzalez, among others.
In the late 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, Altschul was a member of Chick Corea’s trio (with bassist Dave Holland) and then participated in the important cooperative group Circle after saxophonist Anthony Braxton joined the trio. He also soon joined the Sam Rivers Trio (with Dave Holland) and the Anthony Braxton Quartet (with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler or trombonist George Lewis and Holland). These ground-breaking groups solidified his reputation as one of the most creative drummers on the contemporary scene.
In addition, Altschul led his own freebop groups, with such luminaries as Muhal Richard Abrams, Ray Anderson, Arthur Blythe, Anthony Davis, George Lewis and Mark Helias. Altschul also began recording as a leader, with his first two recordings (You Can’t Name Your Own Tune from 1977 and Another Time/Another Place from 1978) being among the key modern jazz recordings of the late 1970s. These were followed by For Stu and Somewhere Else in 1979, Brahma in 1980, Irina in 1983 and That’s Nice in 1985.
For a 10-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Altschul lived in Paris and worked mostly in Europe. Returning to the United States in 1993, Altschul took a teaching position at the Sarah Lawrence College for a decade and performed only occasionally in smaller New York clubs. However, ten years ago, Altschul gradually began active performing and recording again, for example, joining forces with violinist Billy Bang and bassist Joe Fonda to form the FAB Trio. In the past decade, Altschul has also been a part of Roswell Rudd’s Trombone Tribe and The Swell-Ullman 4 and has led several groups of his own. In 2007, he reunited with Sam Rivers and Dave Holland for a recorded performance by the Sam Rivers Trio (Reunion: Live In New York).
In the new trio on The 3dom Factor, Altschul is joined by Jon Irabagon, one of today´s leading young saxophonists particularly known as the leader of his own groups and as a member of Mostly Other People Do the Killing; and bassist Joe Fonda, Altschul´s companion in the FAB Trio with Billy Bang, a veteran of Anthony Braxton´s groups and a leader or co-leader of many of his own ensembles.
The 3dom Factor features compositions that span almost the entirety of Barry Altschul’s career. Carla Bley’s “Ictus” is the only borrowed tune and was performed by Altschul with Paul Bley already in the 1960s whereas “Natal Chart” was included on Altschul’s first recording as a leader. “Martin’s Stew,” “Be Out S’Cool,” “Papa’s Funkish Dance” and “Irina” were on his subsequent recordings as a leader in the late 1970s and the 1980s and “Just A Simple Song” was composed for the FAB Trio in 2008. Finally, “The 3dom Factor,” “Oops” and “A Drummer’s Song” are introduced for the first time with this recording and bring the whole to the current day.
Barry Altschul - The 3dom Factor
International release: February 19, 2013
TUM CD 032
01 The 3dom Factor
02 Martin’s Stew
04 Papa’s Funkish Dance
05 Be Out S’Cool
07 Just A Simple Song
09 Natal Chart
10 A Drummer’s Song
Barry Altschul, drums
Jon Irabagon, tenor saxophone
Joe Fonda, double bass