4

Barry Altschul, William Hooker, Bobby Previte & Andrew Cyrille

Barry Altschul, William Hooker, Bobby Previte & Andrew Cyrille
Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
Barry Altschul
Roulette
January 8, 2013

Another 70th birthday to celebrate, another musician who commands the appearance and vitality of a much younger player. New York drummer Barry Altschul actually hit 70 two days before this celebratory gig at Roulette. The long-established experimental music venue is now settling in at its newer Brooklyn space very well. There's a sense that the joint has stabilized and refined itself as a performing space, in terms of its sound, light and acoustic qualities.

Altschul elected to combine his birthday party with an album release party, although the actual atmosphere was more concert hall than jumping joint in nature. This didn't prevent the players from spreading a robust sense of humor throughout the proceedings, something that doesn't happen too frequently within the sanctum of hardcore free improvisation. Altschul also decided to reform a band that hadn't played together for 30 years. He was joined by trombonist Ray Anderson and bassist Mark Helias to revive BRAHMA, a name which is concocted by employing their initials. The other trio on this double bill was The 3dom Factor, a much newer joining of Altschul with tenor man Jon Irabagon and bassist Joe Fonda. Its eponymously titled 2012 Tum recording provided the evening's release party part.

The 3dom Factor played first, concentrating on material from the album, composed but frequently having the feel of controlled improvising. This is a trio that's already honed a deep rapport, maintaining constant interest via a consistent interchange of dominant roles. There were frequent solos, many of them being literally solo interludes, with the remaining pair of players observing silence. At other times, perhaps just one member would play the accompanist part, often reining the sound down to a restrained field of introversion. When the entire trio was in full flow, the opposite extreme rose to dominance, each of them negotiating themes that were riding closely in rapid-repeat tandem. Altschul used cowbells, wood (or plastic) blocks and whistles or siren horns, establishing the vibration of an itinerant street musician. Carnival in a free-form state. Perhaps these special effects were a touch overused, but there was still ample demonstration of Altschul's polyrhythmic skills on the more mainstream parts of his kit. Irabagon was always studiedly in control, but he has a way of investing cerebrally organized, fleet-fingered progressions with a soaring passion. He spurts out an unbroken flow of exploratory phrases, winding along an unpredictable path.

When BRAHMA took to the stage following an intermission, even their brief sound check was a work of art. When Anderson plays in New York City, it's usually at either the Jazz Standard or The Cornelia Street Café, both of which have small stages. Here at Roulette, there was an opportunity to see him rambling along the ample boards, unleashing the New Orleans physicality of his 'bone rasping. The joyfulness of this threesome was contagious. The opening statement of intent was that this set was going to be completely improvised. So it was, but that didn't prevent the trio from throwing in a sudden reading of "Cheek To Cheek," penned by Irving Berlin and most closely identified with singer/dancer/film actor Fred Astaire. Anderson really was in a Crescent City frame of mind, repeatedly returning to blasting raspberry riffs, in-between the sparsely enunciated high-note acrobatics.

To make this gig even more special, the second set concluded with Irabagon and Fonda returning to the stage, forming an extended unit. Now it was thrilling to observe the bonding of Anderson and Irabagon, as well as Helias and Fonda, although it wasn't as simple as that, there being lightning flashes of intuition between all five players. These are some of the few artists who could successfully weigh in with a "Happy Birthday" that simultaneously conjured New Orleans partying and ascendant freedom-blowing, turning the tune into an extended encore. This was a musically challenging evening, inflamed by a strong sense of playfulness.


William Hooker
The Knitting Factory
January 9, 2013

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell & Susie Ibarra Live From New York Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 14, 2017
Read Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017 Live From New York Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: July 2, 2017
Read Hal Willner, Ex Eye, Bill Laswell, Zion 80 & Brandon Seabrook Live From New York Hal Willner, Ex Eye, Bill Laswell, Zion 80 & Brandon...
by Martin Longley
Published: July 22, 2016
Read Darius Jones, Mara Rosenbloom, Christian McBride, Tom Harrell & Leon Parker Live From New York Darius Jones, Mara Rosenbloom, Christian McBride, Tom...
by Martin Longley
Published: July 15, 2016
Read Red Hook Jazz Festival 2016 Live From New York Red Hook Jazz Festival 2016
by Martin Longley
Published: July 7, 2016
Read Barry Adamson, Michael Formanek, Elliott Sharp & Rokia Traoré Live From New York Barry Adamson, Michael Formanek, Elliott Sharp & Rokia...
by Martin Longley
Published: April 14, 2016
Read "Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell & Susie Ibarra" Live From New York Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017" Live From New York Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "Kurt Rosenwinkel: Caipirinhas and Constellations" Catching Up With Kurt Rosenwinkel: Caipirinhas and Constellations
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 30, 2017
Read "Tim Motzer: Wandering the Depths of Space" Multiple Reviews Tim Motzer: Wandering the Depths of Space
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "From Microtones to Mauro to MFSB" From the Inside Out From Microtones to Mauro to MFSB
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Hard Boppin' at Smalls" In Pictures Hard Boppin' at Smalls
by Dave Kaufman
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Charles Mingus 95th Birthday Celebration" New York @ Night Charles Mingus 95th Birthday Celebration
by Peter Jurew
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "Rigas Ritmi 2017" Live Reviews Rigas Ritmi 2017
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 12, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.