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 Title:               Live in Kraków

 By:                  Barry Altschul and the 3Dom Factor

​ Released:       2017

 Format:          CD

 Catalog No:    MW 960-2

 EAN:               5906395187201

 Price:             12 EUR

Barry Altschul and the 3Dom Factor - Live in Kraków album cover

1) Martin’s Stew 11:46
2) Ask Me Now 7:28
3) For Papa Joe, Klook, and Philly Too 10:20
4) Irina 8:31
5) The 3Dom Factor 13:56



Jon Irabagon - tenor and sopranino  saxes
Joe Fonda - bass
Barry Altschul - drums

Recorded December 4th, 2016 at the Alchemia club, Krakow

What the critics say:

Recorded at Alchemia club in Krakow, Poland during December of 2016, this is the third album for drummer Barry Altschul's 3dom Factor, and he is once again in the company of Jon Irabagon on tenor and sopranino saxophone and Joe Fonda on bass. The music is a very strong series of collective improvisations and these veteran musicians make the most of the open ended setting and the friendly and supportive audience. Irabagon is a powerhouse saxophone player, and he provides gales of sound along with Fonda's thick bass, meeting Altschul's deeply rhythmic drumming. "Martin's Stew" opens with a solo percussion feature, with the leader developing a diverse range of textures and rhythms. Irabagon glides in with a complex freebop approach that matches the percussionist very well. They move into a powerful collective improvisation that is impassioned and very fast paced. The music barrels forward relentlessly, before calming and offering a fine bowed bass feature. The shimmering drum work suits the edgy bowing perfectly. The saxophonist rejoins and draws squiggles of sound against the pummeling background. The Monk standard "Ask Me Now" gives the group ample ammunition for a raw and gritty performance. The music is more spacious and probing, hinting at the melody. Subtle saxophone and percussion frame another great bass solo, making for a more relaxed and understated conversation. "For Papa Joe, Klook and Philly" honors three great drummers from jazz history with some explosive percussion from Altschul and tight bass and saxophone in firm support. The group performance is very impressive with a muscular flexing rhythm and driving fast paced improvisation. After another strong bass solo, the focus shifts to dynamic exchanges of raw energy between the drums and saxophone, loud and thrilling, driving to the finish line. There is a subtle and gentle touch to "Irina" developing as a yearning ballad. Bass and brushes intersect and then are rejoined by Irabagon's high pitched sopranino saxophone. The album ends with a massive blowout on "The 3dom Factor" starting with riveting percussion and saxophone playing chunks of rhythm and melody. The group reaches a blistering tempo with their improvisation richly textured and tightly focused with concentrated energy. Irabagon backs out leaving a complex interaction between drums and bass with occasional saxophone comments. All three instruments then plunge back into a torrent of fast, loud and joyous free jazz playing deeply expressive and unique music. It's a stunning concert all told, with the music making for one of the most exciting albums of the year. The three members of the group are perfectly aligned and are able t move freely with complete confidence.


(review courtesy of Tim Niland and


Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor closed out the 2016 Krakow Jazz Autumn in fine style with this set. Recorded at the fabled Alchemia Club in the city's Jewish ghetto, the drummer leads his tightly knit combo through four originals and a Monk cover. It's a familiar program, as three of the pieces have been in Altschul's band book since the 1980s and all have appeared somewhere on the outfit's first two dates: The 3Dom Factor (TUM Records, 2013) and Tales Of The Unforeseen (TUM Records, 2015). But in the concert setting the group makes the most of the opportunity to stretch out and strut their stuff. 

Over the four years since their inception, The 3Dom Factor has grown into a real unit, knowing who's capable of what, when and how. It helps that Altschul and bassist Joe Fonda previously worked together in FAB with the late lamented violinist Billy Bang for over five years from 2003. Both share a similar approach in terms of creating structure on the fly, as well as possessing an irrepressible sense of swing. A strong affinity has also developed with the third member of the trio, saxophonist Jon Irabagon. Altschul was part of the reedman's trio which cut Foxy (Hot Cup, 2010) and It Takes All Kinds (Irabbagast, 2013) confirming a mutual trust.  

It's apparent right from the start that Altschul remains one of the most musical of drummers, as well as being a master of propulsive thrust. His solo introduction to "Martin's Stew" assembles rolls, thwacks, shakes and shuffles into a coherent whole, suffused by sensitive use of space. As the beat becomes more emphatic, Fonda leaps on it with a driving vamp, and Irabagon slots in the rapidfire free-bop theme. Thereafter the saxophonist demonstrates the almost ridiculous fluency which won him the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, as he flits seamlessly between modern mainstream and free languages. 

Monk's "Ask Me Now" receives a blues twist and spiky drum outbursts which belie the rubato balladry, while Altschul's portrait of an old flame "Irina" opens into a feature for Fonda's woody elasticity and melodic sensibility before Irabagon takes the tune elsewhere with his piping vibrato-laden sopranino. Altschul and Fonda seem to rejoice in playing with time, negotiating gear shifts impeccably, like the switch into the bluesy speeded up swagger of the second part of "For Papa Joe, Klook, and Philly Too," or the alternating burning and relaxed sections of "The 3Dom Factor." Whatever the pace, Irabagon reacts instantaneously, whether echoing Fonda's slurred notes or locking into Altschul's reiterated accents. It's all done with an unselfconscious joy which brings a smile to the face.

(review courtesy of John Sharpe and


A drummer I remember as being one of the most fearless in the 70s, Barry Altschul has been intrepid as ever now as a septuagenarian. The 3Dom Factor trio he leads with Jon Irabagon on reeds and Joe Fonda on bass epitomizes the energy, exuberance and capriciousness of most great jazz, and following mind-blowing long players issued in 2013 and 2015, the drumming great is wrapping up this chapter his long career with the boys showing their stuff on the road.

Live In Kraków (Not Two Records) chronicles a club date in Poland from late 2016 that puts a bow on this trilogy with the same level of vitality with which it debuted. After more than four years of developing a sixth sense, the 3dom Factor had reached the point where they’re comfortable taking even more chances than before, and we know this because of Kraków.

The five-song program gets going with a Altschul tune from 3Dom Factor’s first album and in the four + years since they first recorded it, it’s gone through a significant transformation as they keep testing the outer limits of the composition. “Martin’s Stew” thus starts with a Altschul drum solo that, well, stews until it reaches a pivotal point right where Fonda commences with his rolling bass line, the one element of this songs that’s stayed intact. Irabagon isn’t far behind, breathlessly blowing a linear sketch. Fonda leaves behind a huge void when he abandons his bass walk for an articulate turn with a bow, and Altschul’s open cymbal alone frames the whole energy behind this performance.

“Ask Me Now” isn’t an Altschul product but it does show the connection between his conception of music and Thelonious Monk’s. The lone tune repeated from the second LP Tales Of The Unforeseen doesn’t at all shun Monk’s descending theme, but Fonda and Altschul seem to be playing to Irabagon’s saucy read on it (saucier than he did it in the studio, by the way), gradually settling into a lazy swing as the saxophonist fades into the background and Fonda moves into his place.

“For Papa Joe, Klook, and Philly Too” looks back at some drummer greats who inspired Altschul (Jo Jones, Kenny Clarke and ‘Philly’ Jo Jones), who’s dropping little explosions all around Irabagon’s advanced bop figures. “Irina” turns the spotlight on the veteran bassist Fonda, who softly unspools a pretty melody. Irabagon on sopranino sax reacts with sticky sweet stylings. The last 3Dom Factor album ends the same way the first one began: “The 3Dom Factor” introduced Altschul’s latest project as a small, highly intuitive combo that uses bop as a springboard into the great unknown of avant-garde and here all three are nearly trying to outrun one another as they charge into that abyss.

A galvanizing performance on stage makes it three for three for Barry Altschul and his 3Dom Factor. We could stand for another one after Live In Kraków, however.

(review courtesy of Victor Aaron and


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.

Apparently, Altschul does not write many tunes. Most here are at least 30 years old. They are more launch pads than songs. The exception is an actual ballad, “Irina.” Haltingly, tenderly, Irabagon renders the melody. You keep waiting for him to break loose, especially when he switches from tenor to sopranino. But he stays on message, in piercing treble. His solo is full of tough love and rough edges, which makes it more moving. On the only cover, Monk’s “Ask Me Now,” it is interesting to hear how a standard can be transformed simply by stating it in the raw, jagged language of this menacing ensemble.

Live in Kraków is the first club recording from the 3Dom Factor. The best way to hear this band is live and wild in the moment.

(review courtesy of Thomas Conrad and

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