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Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Seasoning the Greens

Dan McClenaghan By

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Jazz fans may be less prone to musical ethnocentricities and preconceived ideas about song than, say, those folks who go out and buy Madonna CDs, but that restrictive mindset lingers.

Bill Cole is out to shake things up a bit. Cole has been studying and playing a number of eastern double reed instruments for over forty years, and what he is offering up on his Seasoning of the Greens is something of a sonic world tour, with a solid grounding in American jazz. You'll hear the didgeridoo (Australia), the sona (China), hojok (Korea), the shenai and nagaswarm (India), combined with an array of handmade instruments played by his band mate Cooper-Moore.

The eastern sound, to the uninitiated ear, can sound a bit monotonous, drone-like in its approach. Cole and his Untempered Ensemble have solved that sticking point by adding American sounds: baritone horn and tuba, accoustic bass, alto sax, trap drums, and congas and bongos. The suite—in nine parts, played continuously—may sound a bit odd at first, on "Groundings", a low moan, a rather featureless insectile hum; but that's the ethnocentricities suffacing. Give it a minute. Things gel. "The Triple Towers of Kyongbokkang" (Korea) has a lovely, solid melody; and "South Indian Festival Rhythm"—to lapse into the jazz vernacular—just plain cooks.

The baritone horn's rich, mellow tone is a nice touch in these proceedings, giving the high end Eastern instruments a solid Western grounding.

The closer, "A Man Sees a Snake, a Woman Kills It; No Matter, as Long as It is Dead" (from a Nigerian proverb) is a rollicking twelve minute closer, Eastern instruments screaming over a Western gutbucket blues, a loose, rapturous New Orleans dixieland cacophony.

An education for the ear, an essential disc for listeners with geographical aspirations or interests in a different musical palette.

Track Listing: Grounded, The Triple Towers of Kyongbokkang, South Indian Festival Rhythm, Ghanaian Funeral Rhythm, South Indian Marriage Rhythm, Colombian Rhythm, Free Rhythm, A Man Sees a Snake, a Woman Kills It; No Matter, as Long as It is Dead

Personnel: Bill Cole, didgeridoo, sona, hojok, shenai, nagaswarm; Cooper-Moore, handmade instruments; Sam Furnace, alto sax; Joseph Daley, tuba, baritone horn, William Parker, bass; Warren Smith, trap drums; Atticus Cole, congas and bongos

Title: Seasoning the Greens | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Boxholder Records

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