Barry Altschul is a drummer who gained fame in the late 1960s with the pianists Paul Bley and Chick Corea, playing in the outside style of jazz that had been evolving steadily since the innovations of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane. His first major gig in the late 1960s was with Paul Bley's trio. In 1969 he joined with Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton to form the group Circle. At the time, he made use of a high-pitched Gretsch kit with add-on drums and percussion instruments, which he integrated seamlessly in a whirlwind of sound. No one sounded quite like him at the time, and his nuclear energy served him well when he teamed up with Sam Rivers and Anthony Braxton throughout the 1970s.
Altschul also made a few albums as a leader, but after the mid-1980s he was rarely seen in concert or on record. Recently, he has become a little more visible again, with two sideman appearances on the CIMP label with the FAB trio (with Billy Bang and Joe Fonda) and the bassist Adam Lane. Altschul has played or recorded with many musicians, including Roswell Rudd, Dave Liebman, Andrew Hill, Sonny Criss, Hampton Hawes, and Lee Konitz.