Barry Altschul (born 6 January 1943, New York City) is a free jazz and hard bop drummer.
He initially taught himself to play drums, then studied with Charlie Persip in the 1960s.
He gained fame in the late 1960s with 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 and John Coltrane. His first major gig was with Paul Bley’s trio, then in 1969 he joined with Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton to form the group Circle.
In the 1970s Altschul worked extensively with Anthony Braxton’s quartet, along with Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland and George Lewis. As well as playing in ensembles featuring avant-garde musicians, Altschul has performed with Lee Konitz, Art Pepper and other ‘straight-ahead’ jazz performers.
After a quiet period from the mid-1980s, Altschul has been more visible in recent years. In this live recording from 2010, he plays ‘Planet Hopping on a Thursday Afternoon’ with Gebhard Ullmann (sax, bass clarinet), Steve Swell (trombone) and Hilliard Greene (double bass).