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Barry Altschul & the 3Dom Factor: Live in Kraków (Not Two)

Review of album from trio led by legendary drummer

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Cover of Barry Altschul & 3dom Factor album
Cover of Barry Altschul & 3dom Factor album

Drummer Barry Altschul and saxophonist Jon Irabagon, born 35 years apart, have now collaborated on five trio albums, all ass-kickers. Two were led by Irabagon and three by Altschul in the project he calls the 3Dom Factor. They are both outcats who have sometimes performed in more straight-ahead settings. The fascination of Live in Kraków is hearing them move back and forth across the no man’s land that theoretically separates inside and outside jazz.

On the opening track, “Martin’s Stew,” Altschul begins quietly and alone. Thoughtful markings on cymbal and snare grow gradually louder. Then bassist Joe Fonda plunges the piece into runaway time. Irabagon enters, guns blazing. He is an exciting talent who plays the most grueling, blistering, hell-bent freebop you will ever experience. Ideas fly off him. His momentum usually carries him over the edge, where ideas shatter into chaos. He usually finds his way back. Altschul, almost 74 when this album was made, is similar: He drives powerfully forward but might interrupt himself, explosively, at any moment.

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