Basic Background Info

Birth: January 6, 1943
Location: New York City, New York
Band: Circle
Genres: Jazz
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician


Barry Altschul was born in the Bronx where "jazz was in the streets." He was introduced to the piano by his sister when he was two years old and took lessons for three years. Before long, Barry Altschul rebelled against the piano and he tried to play the clarinet. From clarinet, he made the jump to the drums when he was eleven. Barry Altschul mostly taught himself by picking up on rhythms he heard around his neighborhood until Charlie Persip became Barry's teacher in 1960.

As a teenager, Barry Altschul started playing gigs with other musicians from his neighborhood. While working as a janitor at a recording studio, he met Paul Bley. A little later, Paul and Barry played together at a new venue Slugs. Although he had dabbled in it while playing along with his sister on the piano and with some local bop guys, Barry Altschul experienced true free-style music for the first time while he played with Paul Bley. The Bley Band worked to find niches for its unique music and recorded frequently in Europe. Barry Altschul worked with Paul intermittently throughout the 70s and 80s.

Barry Altschul also performed in an acoustic trio with Chick Corea and Dave Holland, playing for free to whoever would listen. Anthony Braxton soon joined them and Circle was created. While playing with Circle, Barry Altschul began composing music for the entire group, instead of just solo pieces for himself.

In the 1980s Barry Altschul predominantly recorded independently and accompanied various artists on their recordings. However, Barry led Circle on 1985ís Thatís Nice. After the 1980s, Barry Altschul's presence in the music arena diminished, although recently he accompanied the FAB trio.

Barry Altschul's style is consistently recognized as a free-form variety of jazz in the same vein as artists such as Cecil Taylor, Ornette, Coleman, and John Coltrane.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1965 Closer Paul Bley
1965 Touching Paul Bley
1966 Blood Paul Bley
1966 Ramblin' Paul Bley
1967 Ballads Paul Bley
1967 Paul Bley in Harlem Paul Bley
1967 Virtuosi Barry Altschul/Paul Bley/Gary Peacock
1968 Alan Silva Alan Silva
1968 Canada Paul Bley
1968 Chick Corea Chick Corea
1968 Circling In Corea/Holland/Altschul/Braxton
1970 Circulus Circle
1970 Early Circle Circle
1970 Song of Singing Chick Corea
1971 A.R.C. Chick Corea w/Dave Holland & Barry Altsc
1971 Bley/Peacock Synthesizer Show Annette Peacock
1971 Paris Concert Circle
1972 Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Play the Blues Buddy Guy/Junior Wells
1972 Conference of the Birds Dave Holland Quartet
1972 Hold That Plane Buddy Guy
1972 I'm the One Annette Peacock
1972 News from the '70s Anthony Braxton
1972 Paul Bley & Scorpio Paul Bley
1972 Town Hall Anthony Braxton
1973 Icarus Paul Winter Consort
1973 Icarus Paul Winter Consort
1973 Live Sam Rivers Trio
1974 Drum Ode Dave Liebman
1974 Flexible Flyer Roswell Rudd
1974 Live in New York Chick Corea Quartet
1974 Quartet Live at Moers New Jazz Festival Anthony Braxton
1974 Spiral Andrew Hill
1975 Coon Bid'ness Julius Hemphill
1975 Five Pieces Anthony Braxton
1975 Montreux/Berlin Concerts Anthony Braxton
1975 Sizzle Sam Rivers
1976 Japan Suite Paul Bley with Gary Peacock and Barry Al
1976 Quartet (Dortmund) 1976 Anthony Braxton
1976 Quest Sam Rivers
1976 Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions Various Artists
1977 Paragon Sam Rivers
1977 You Can't Name Your Own Tune Barry Altschul
1978 Another Time/Another Place Barry Altschul
1979 For Stu Barry Altschul
1980 Brahma Barry Altschul
1982 Give and Take John Lindberg
1983 And Far Away Kenny Drew Quartet
1983 Irina Barry Altschul
1983 Lido Claudio Fasoli
1983 My One and Only Love Franco d'Andrea
1983 No Idea of Time Franco d'Andrea
1983 Sounds of Love Tiziana Ghiglioni with Kenny Drew
1985 Hot Paul Bley
1985 That's Nice Barry Altschul
1988 Live at Sweet Basil Paul Bley
1991 For All the Marbles Suite Simon Nabatov
1992 Bass Is Peter Warren
1992 Bass Is Various Artists
1992 Giacobazzi: Autour de la Rade AndrÈ Jaume/Barry Altschul/Barre Phillip
1993 Best of Chick Corea Chick Corea
1994 Indian Summer Paul Bley
1994 Rejoicing Paul Bley
1995 Live Brundl's Basslab
1996 Beginning Chick Corea
1996 Black Lion Connoisseur/Lions Abroad, Vol. 2: Lion on Various Artists
1996 Music Forever and Beyond: The Selected Works of Chick Corea Chick Corea
1997 Jazz Loft Sessions Various Artists
1997 Jazz Piano Anthology: Modern Evolutions Various Artists
1997 Kinshasa-Washington D.C.-Paris Ray Lema
1999 Clarinet Sessions AndrÈ Jaume
2000 Complete Vanguard Recordings Buddy Guy
2000 Other Side Ken Simon
2001 Jazzactuel Various Artists
2001 Paul Bley & Scorpio Paul Bley & Scorpio
2002 Four Beings Adam Lane
2002 Ramblin' Paul Bley
2003 Transforming the Space F.A.B.
2004 Circles Paul Bley
2004 Desert Songs & Other Landscapes Gebhard Ullmann
2004 Rarum, Vol. 10: Selected Recordings Dave Holland


  • "For me, the no-time is swinging in a way that just makes your body move, whether you're swaying or doing some kind of body motion—whatever makes your body move is swing, you don't necessarily have to snap your fingers." -Barry Altschul
  • "Philosophically, I've always felt that no matter what style of music I was involved in, it was part of the jazz continuum the way I see it"” -Barry Altschul

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Gretsch

Pics & Clips