Barry altschul's 3dom factor - tales of the unforeseen

The essential approach to drummer Barry Altschul’s new release on the TUM label is freedom. The hour-long Tales of the Unforeseen is the sophomore studio album for his current group, Barry Altschul’s 3dom Factor. Altschul states in the liner notes that, “Nothing was planned: no charts, no specific concepts—just play.” That kind of framework can only be successful if the performers are finely and precisely attuned to each other, and that’s exactly what happens. Altschul should be known to improvisational jazz devotees. In the early 1970s, Altschul was a member of Circle, a band which also included Chick Corea , Dave Holland , and Anthony Braxton, and historically is regarded by some as one of the most technically-adept free jazz ensembles. When Circle dissolved, Altschul divided his time between solo works and collaborations with Kenny Drew , Billy Bang and others. The other 3dom Factor participants have equally corresponding paths. Bassist Joe Fonda was Braxton’s go-to bassist in the ‘90s, he supported trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith , and Fonda has issued several wide-ranging music CDs. Fonda and Altschul have been part of the FAB Trio for 15 years. Saxophonist Jon Irabagon is a partner in the unconventional jazz assemblage, Mostly Other People Do the Killing ; and also involved in the Dave Douglas Quartet. Irabagon and Altschul have performed together over a six year period. To say the least, these are three musicians who have established a telepathic communication.

Barry Altschul’s The 3Dom Factor was one of the strongest and most underrated albums of 2013. Released as the master drummer turned 70, it features compositions he had written throughout his career, revealing a talent that’s not as celebrated as his tenures with Anthony Braxton, Paul Bley and Sam Rivers. Rather than merely reflecting on his achievements, Altschul-together with saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Joe Fonda-kept the music sounding new with an animated blend of freethinking and hard-swinging.

For Tales of the Unforeseen , the trio went into the studio with no preparation and cut loose. (Altschul did this with Irabagon on the latter’s spontaneous Foxy album in 2010.) Part of this album comprises two songs from the band’s repertoire, a slow, sensual reading of Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now” and a buoyant take on Annette Peacock’s “Miracles.” But by and large this is high-caliber free improvisation. The 26-minute “As the Tale Begins” starts off sounding like the trio is working from a theme. Fonda begins by laying down a pedal-point foundation for Irabagon’s explorative tenor. A breakdown gives way to a joyous racket of growls, plucks and percussive cracks. When things start to flow again, Irabagon unleashes aggressive squawks on sopranino.

“A Drummer’s Tale” lets the leader go it alone, proving why Altschul is a highly esteemed percussionist, deftly utilizing his whole kit while never digressing into showmanship. The closing track, “And the Tale Ends,” is a bit of a misnomer, since it doesn’t end so much as fade out. They probably had more to say, but it’s better to exit on a high note.

Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor - Tales of the UnforeseenBarry Altschul's 3Dom Factor - Tales of the UnforeseenBarry Altschul's 3Dom Factor - Tales of the UnforeseenBarry Altschul's 3Dom Factor - Tales of the Unforeseen