Andrew Barker – Barker Trio (2015)

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The distinctive, instinctual drummer Andrew Barker has co-founded and participated in many projects on the fringes of jazz or metal, such as Gold Sparkle Band, Acid Birds and Hallux. Another one of his endeavors is a small combo he leads, the Barker Trio, and this sax-bass-drums combo with reedman Michael Foster and bassist Tim Dahl has just issued its first, self-titled set of recordings.

Highly improvisational, Barker Trio draws instant comparisons to another trio record that involved both Barker and Dahl: Luddite, which featured Paul Dunmall’s penetrating, brooding and exposed saxophone. Foster, on the other hand, is more inclined toward the uninhibited, spontaneous and rangy. But like Luddite, just about anything goes, and while some might call this free jazz”, the participants don’t seem to be so concerned about whether it’s jazz so much as it’s freely played.

The Trio strikes wide contrasting moods, not allowing themselves to be limited by a limited number of instruments. “You Are A Real” is widely dispersed, with Barker dwelling on higher timbres and light patters as Foster’s sax strains to get the notes out. They go even further off the abyss for “Scarface Pajamas,” where Foster’s tenor sax is alternately squealing like a pig and honking like a goose. Barker gets the tension maintained with frequent cymbal bombs and both him and Foster make way for Dahl’s ominous bowed bass. Dahl makes slack-stringed wobbles on “Failed States” that Foster and Barker respond to. By contrast, the center of the chaotic “Invalid Request” is hard to locate as the band nonetheless moves through the tumult together.

In the middle of all this we find the barren soundscape of “A Teeming Portal.” Foster himself makes a percussive effect on his soprano sax that blend with the dispersed drums of Barker and the staggered bass of Dahl. Foster’s tentative puffs soon transform into a volley of notes and Barker frames the choppy ebb and flow of the performance.

Barker Trio is being sold wherever the Trio is performing, as well as at Earwax Records in Brooklyn.

If you’re on the Continent this fall, catch the Barker Trio at these places and dates:

Nov 13: Amsterdam @ De Ruimte w/ Cactus Truck
Nov 14: Den Haag @ Autonoom Centrum
Nov 15: Rotterdam @ De Nieuwe Ruimte
Nov 16: Lille, France @ CCL
Nov 17: Paris @ Bab-Ilo with guest Thomas Kpade
Nov 18: Antwerp, Belgium @ Het Bos with BLURT
Nov 19: Stuttgart, Germany @ Taut/Alte Schachtel
Nov 20: TBA

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron
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