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Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble Seasoning the Greens Review

Album. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

A worth whilelisten for the geographically curious jazzer.

Peter Marsh 2002

Fusing jazz and world music is a tricky process; the results can either be a compromise situation where the noblest intentions can produce some of the lamest music imaginable, or (as in Don Cherry's case), a whole new world of possibilities. Similarly the adoption of non Western instrumentation into jazz can come across as either grafted on exotica or a launchpad for new discovery...cue Bill Cole.

Cole's in the unusual position of being both a jazz historian (he has written biographies of both John Coltrane and Miles Davis) and a player of non Western reed and wind instruments of some 40 years experience. His Untempered Ensemble is aptly named, given their gift for producing those notes that fall in the cracks between the piano keys. Comprised of some of New York's finest avant jazzers, they pull off the difficult task of showing respect for global traditions while simultaneously shoving two fingers up at any notions of cultural segregation or imperialism.

Seasoning the Greens has evolved since its inception in 1994from an improvised piece to a suite that globetrots its way through rhythmic figures from Korea to Colombia via Ghana and South India.Similarly the instrumentation is pretty pan cultural, from Cole's collection of winds (didgeridoo, shenai and nagaswarm) to Cooper-Moore's collection of homemade instruments from flute to hoe-handle harp. Sam Furnace adds gutsy, blurry alto, Joe Daley on tuba and the ubiquitous William Parker hold down the bottom endduties and Warren Smith and Atticus Cole provide percussive propulsion. Together these players have a breadth of experience that ranges from Anthony Braxton to Gil Evans to Art Blakey; impressive credentials indeed.

The suite opens with a whirling drone of didgeridoo and bowed harmonics before settling into Smith's "Triple Towers of Kyongbokkang", whose stately melody sits over gently insistent rhythm patterns. Cole's shenai is often the dominant voice, recalling the kind of melismatic ecstacies Pharoah Sanders' soprano generated in the later Coltrane lineups, while Furnace and Daley riff behind him. The rhythm section groove mightily; Parker can light a fire underneath pretty much any band and his solidity is typically elemental here.

This is often joyful music; Cooper-Moore's lovely penny whistle figures give "South Indian Marriage Rhythm" an irresistible kwela lilt, while "Colombian Rhythm" provokes Cole into a monstrous solo, followed by an extended percussion improv.

"Free Rhythm" takes things down a peg with Cooper-Moore's harp offering swooningly lovelykora like plucks and koto bends, joined eventually by Parker's rich bass meanderings. The suite ends with a downhome 'n' dirty blues; Furnace digs in deep on alto before the whole thing morphs into a furious bout of collective soloing; when Coles's shenai blasts in, it's as if the Ganges is flowing into the Hudson.A worthwhilelisten for the geographically curious jazzer.

Like This? Try These:
HuVibrational - Boonghee Music
Don Cherry/Kryzystof Penderecki - Actions

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