Barry Altschul & The 3Dom Factor – Live In Kraków (2015)

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A drummer I remember as being one of the most fearless in the 70s, Barry Altschul has been intrepid as ever now as a septuagenarian. The 3Dom Factor trio he leads with Jon Irabagon on reeds and Joe Fonda on bass epitomizes the energy, exuberance and capriciousness of most great jazz, and following mind-blowing long players issued in 2013 and 2015, the drumming great is wrapping up this chapter his long career with the boys showing their stuff on the road.

Live In Kraków (Not Two Records) chronicles a club date in Poland from late 2016 that puts a bow on this trilogy with the same level of vitality with which it debuted. After more than four years of developing a sixth sense, the 3dom Factor had reached the point where they’re comfortable taking even more chances than before, and we know this because of Kraków.

The five-song program gets going with a Altschul tune from 3Dom Factor’s first album and in the four + years since they first recorded it, it’s gone through a significant transformation as they keep testing the outer limits of the composition. “Martin’s Stew” thus starts with a Altschul drum solo that, well, stews until it reaches a pivotal point right where Fonda commences with his rolling bass line, the one element of this songs that’s stayed intact. Irabagon isn’t far behind, breathlessly blowing a linear sketch. Fonda leaves behind a huge void when he abandons his bass walk for an articulate turn with a bow, and Altschul’s open cymbal alone frames the whole energy behind this performance.

“Ask Me Now” isn’t an Altschul product but it does show the connection between his conception of music and Thelonious Monk’s. The lone tune repeated from the second LP Tales Of The Unforeseen doesn’t at all shun Monk’s descending theme, but Fonda and Altschul seem to be playing to Irabagon’s saucy read on it (saucier than he did it in the studio, by the way), gradually settling into a lazy swing as the saxophonist fades into the background and Fonda moves into his place.

“For Papa Joe, Klook, and Philly Too” looks back at some drummer greats who inspired Altschul (Jo Jones, Kenny Clarke and ‘Philly’ Jo Jones), who’s dropping little explosions all around Irabagon’s advanced bop figures. “Irina” turns the spotlight on the veteran bassist Fonda, who softly unspools a pretty melody. Irabagon on sopranino sax reacts with sticky sweet stylings. The last 3Dom Factor album ends the same way the first one began: “The 3Dom Factor” introduced Altschul’s latest project as a small, highly intuitive combo that uses bop as a springboard into the great unknown of avant-garde and here all three are nearly trying to outrun one another as they charge into that abyss.

A galvanizing performance on stage makes it three for three for Barry Altschul and his 3Dom Factor. We could stand for another one after Live In Kraków, however.


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
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