Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor – Tales Of The Unforseen (2015)

Share this:

Paul Motian’s celebrated small combos of the 2000’s put a peak at the end of a career of one of jazz’s most important drummers post-1960. Not long after Motian’s death in late 2011, another innovative drummer who made his mark in the 60s and 70s also put together a cross-generational ensemble, and Barry Altschul the 3Dom Factor got off to a very promising start with its self-titled album in 2013.

Since then, Altschul has toured with this group which also includes Jon Irabagon (sax) and Joe Fonda (bass), and what started as very loose, fun modern jazz has transformed into serious all-out improv for their second release Tales Of The Unforeseen (TUM Records). More so than 3Dom Factor, this is meat and potatoes for the former Paul Bley and A.R.C. drummer.

Half of these half-dozen tunes are out-and-out group improvisations, another one (“A Drummer’s Tale”) is an Altschul drum solo and two more (Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now” and Annette Peacock’s “Miracles”) are covers, but nothing ever appears to be executed according to a script.

It begins with “As The Tale Begins,” a twenty-six minute journey which finds Altschul playing free but well in command of the kit, shifting in sync with Fonda’s swing and Irabagon’s puckish tenor but losing none of his capriciousness. Eventually the song grinds to a virtual halt and the three make some random stabs into the void, gradually filling up the space with free group improv. Even where there is no structure, Altschul plays with a finely attenuated touch. The energy level undulates, and by this time Irabagon has switched temporarily to a sopranino sax, blowing raspberries and reaching the dog whistle range of horn. In the final segment, Fonda freelances on arco bass as the three brainstorm toward the conclusion.

The only other performances running over six minutes is the concluding “And The Tale Ends,” taking on a completely different character due to Irabagon on flute and Altschul on brushes swirling around Fonda’s wandering bass. The three happen onto a repeating figure groove shortly after Irabagon switches to tenor.

In between are a string of shorter performances, including a reading of Monk’s “Ask Me Now.” Irabagon (on tenor sax) instinctively connects to the very bluesy soul of the song while Fonda and Altschul are playing to his sax, not minding so much the rhythm. Altschul concocts a bewitching multi-layered Latin rhythm for Peacock’s “Miracles” that’s not quite like anything anyone else has done.

As the musicians Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor gets better acclimated with each other, the telepathy and audacity gets better, too. The suite-like approach taken for Tales Of The Unforeseen strings together the divergent parts into a connected whole. That old school guy Barry Altschul remains on the edge of jazz as much as he ever was.

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 jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, 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 https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close