Happy Birthday Barry Altschul

January 6, 1943

A birthday salute to the versatile drummer

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Drummer Barry Altschul was born on January 6, 1943 in New York City.

After being self-taught on the drums, Altschul studied with Charlie Persip, making his recording debut in 1965 with the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

During 1965-69 he was a member of the Paul Bley Trio (with several different bassists including Steve Swallow and Gary Peacock), developing a way of playing free jazz while still implying time and leaving space.

During 1970-71, Altschul worked with the Chick Corea Trio (with bassist Dave Holland) and the group Circle which added Anthony Braxton to the trio.

He also continued his association with Paul Bley, and worked and recorded in the 1970s with Sam Rivers, Roswell Rudd, Dave Liebman, Andrew Hill, Julius Hemphill and Anthony Braxton (in a variety of contexts including his quartet with Kenny Wheeler) in addition to leading his own stimulating record dates.

While he performed with many avant-garde players in the 1980s, Altschul also made straight ahead recordings with Peter Sprague and Kenny Drew.

Barry Altschul has remained active up to the present time, collaborating in some recent projects with altoist Jon Irabagon.

Here is Altschul on October 2, 2010 performing Steve Swell’s “Planet Hopping On A Thursday Afternoon” with the Ullman-Swell Four.


Gebbard Ullmann, tenor
Steve Swell, trombone
Hillard Greene, bass
Barry Altschul, drums

-Scott Yanow


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