Barry Altschul’s New Album


ALTSCHUL: Long Tall Sunshine. The 3Dom Factor. Irina. Be Out S’cool. Martin’s Stew / Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor: Jon Irabagon, t-sax/soprillo-sax/a-cl; Joe Fonda, bs; Barry Altschul, dm / Not Two Records, no number (live: “somewhere in Europe,” Spring 2019)

This album, scheduled for release on July 30, is really terrific, partly because of Altschul’s wonderful drumming but also due to saxist Joe Irabagon, who can really play some. It opens with Long Tall Sunshine, an uptempo bebop romp in which Irabagon jumps in from the outset on tenor and doesn’t let go until later. He has a lot of Coltrane in him that he has to get out of his system, and does he ever! And if you think Long Tall Sunshine is wild, wait until you hear The 3Dom Factor, a simply manic piece in which Altschul and bassist Joe Fonda go wild behind an even wilder Irabagon. This one will have you climbing the walls.

To call this group “exciting” is like saying that miso has a little salt in it; and yet, they can also pull back from the maelstrom to produce a surprisingly good ballad like Irina, on which Irabagon plays an alto clarinet. Be Out S’cool sounds for all the world, at the outset, like some of Coltrane’s pieces, with its odd, stepwise motion, before Fonda takes over with a superb bass solo, followed by Irabagon squealing and rasping his way through a really freaky soprillo sax chorus—with Altschul’s drums pushing and prodding the whole group towards musical madness.

Long Tall Sunshine opens with an extended drum solo before Fonda comes in at the 3:12 mark, soon followed by Irabagon, again on tenor. He’s all over the map, yet somehow manages to give us a solo with some structure in it…don’t ask me how, but he does. Then it’s Fonda’s turn to show his stuff.

And so this album goes: surprise after surprise, and all of them in a jazz vein, not a rock-fusion vein. Except for Irina, they scarcely pause to inhale through most of this set, and you as a listener will have a hard time finding somewhere to breathe while listening to it. Clearly one of the most exciting jazz recordings ever made!

—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley

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Read my book, From Baroque to Bop and Beyond: An extended and detailed guide to the intersection of classical music and jazz


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