Duets & Solos Volume 2
Boxholder BXH 015

Long an advocate of the congruence of African American and indigenous musics musicologist/multi-instrumentalist Bill Cole uses his Untempered Ensemble as a way to demonstrate his theories.

Second volume of duets with individual band members, this CD actually has a slight edge over the first collected on Boxholder BXH 011. For a start, Cole's solos here on wooden flute and Korean hojok, on the first and final tracks seem to frame the five duo tracks, rather than existing on their own as on VOLUME ONE.

More generically, perhaps because William Parker's bass is the only non-"mouth" instrument, the interaction between the so-called Third World instruments played by Cole and the conventional Western ones in the hands of Sam Furnace and Joseph Daley reach higher plateaus.

Case in point is "A man of outstanding quality is preeminent among his comrades", which like the other tracks on the CD is saddled with an unwieldy, more-than-a-mouthful title. Here Daley's subterranean — but sprightly — tuba tones mix it up with Cole's East Indian nagaswarm to such an extent that it bring to mind subjects of the Raj second lining in a New Orleans street parade. Using the higher pitched baritone horn on the next track, Daley is able to leap and dance around the octaves as easily as can Cole on his Chinese sona, which has a tone like a soprano clarinet. Gradually accelerating in tempo, the blend makes you forget the novelty of the difference in the instrument's origins over the course of the almost 12-minute performance and concentrate on the arpeggio-rich tune.

"Dear Sarah Sully", provides the most noteworthy culture commingling however. Creating a sonorous, vocalized song, the lines of Furnace's metal flute and Cole's wooden Ghanaian one are virtually indistinguishable. This proves once again what is heard as exotic sounds in one culture is commonplace elsewhere and vice versa — and most have much in common. This point is also brought home on the more than 16-minute bass/Korean hojok workout, "Last will be first, first will be last", with Parker. Sporting a tone which resembles that of a slightly swollen oboe, the hojok gives Cole the ability to spew out sonics fleetly enough to keep up with the bassist's flying finger ballet and rhythmic percussion effects. At the end as the hojok vanishes into the stratosphere, Parker intones the words of the title in unison with his strumming. It's as if Slam Stewart was suddenly harmonizing African National Congress slogans.

Many musicians talk about appreciating so-called "World music", that is the 90% of this planet's sounds that don't relate to American pop. Cole has his theories about that as well. But on this CD and his other Boxholder sessions, he's creating a fusion that's as faithful to — or as inventive alongside — indigenous sound as it is to the music that dominates North America.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. "No one knows the paths of the garden better than the gardener" (second take); 2. "A man sees a snake, a woman kills it, no matter so long it is dead"; 3. Dear Sarah Sully; 4. "A man of outstanding quality is preeminent among his comrades" 5. "It is not other people's good wishes which make one rich, but one's own destiny."; 6. "Last will be first, first will be last"; 7. A tormentor make his victims hardy"

Personnel: Bill Cole, flute, bamboo flute, nagaswarm, hojok, sona; Sam Furnace (flute, alto saxophone); Joe Daley (tuba, baritone horn); William Parker (bass)