Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor Release, 'Tales Of The Unforseen,' on TUM Records [REVIEW]
As with most totally improvised sets shorn of all charts or concepts wherein the musicians just play freely, Tales Of The Unforseen (TUM Records out of Finland) by Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor is a wildly eclectic project wherein all three musicians -- drummer/percussionist Altschul, tenor, soprano and sopranino saxophonist/flautist Jon Irabagon and double bassist Joe Fonda -- share equally in the CD's unforeseen adventure.
As the follow-up to 2012's The 3dom Factor, these three have expanded their purview. Whereas before they celebrated drummer Altschul's own compositions on the occasion of his 70th birthday, they now reach out to two composers -- Thelonious Monk ("Ask me Now") and Annette Peacock ("Miracles") -- to play with. And play they do! Both compositions get the inside-out upside-down treatment of a true avant-gardist, which Altschul is. The man's been stretching limits his whole career. When a free player approaches a tune already set in stone, he or she obviously has to conform somewhat to the dictates of meter and melody. That's why these two covers beautifully offset all of the technically brilliant but oftentimes erratic buzzing of tracks like opener "As The Tale Begins" which drones on for almost a half-hour and closer "And The Tale Ends" which does likewise for 10:39.
The two covers are the highlights. This begs to answer the question: what happens when free players, known to spontaneously compose via group improvisation, tackle an already existing composition? Does it stifle their adventurism? Does it restrict their movement because they have to conform to the author's intent? The answer is no to both questions. And it's why more free players should attempt to liberate existing tunes. Just the hint of a proper melody can be key in swallowing this music.