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April 2003

Bill Cole Untempered Ensemble
Seasoning the Greens
Boxholder Records

The music starts with long, very low sounds-didgeridoo, tuba, bowed bass together-that is guaranteed to shake your bricks and rattle your insides. The program is a medley of exotic settings, each with its distinctive fetching rhythms, textures and instrumental colors, and you can file Seasoning the Greens under jazz/world music.

With track titles like "South Indian Festival Rhythm," "Ghanaian Funeral Rhythm" and "Colombian Rhythm," it should be no surprise that the swinging drummer Warren Smith is this septet's central figure. He plays his kit with special care for the organization and spacing of resonant wood, metal and skin sounds; his exotic patterns and dynamics chiaroscuro are attractive, and the most interesting piece, "The Triple Towers of Kyongbokkang," is his composition. Along with Smith's Asian and African rhythms, Atticus Cole plays bongos and congas and William Parker plays bass-here in American four-beat, there in dancing patterns.

Altoist Sam Furnace veers from big-tone outside playing to sweaty, hormone-enriched R&B honks. Joe Daley contributes on baritone horn and tuba, and these two are the group's pure jazz components. Bill Cole plays Asian reed instruments with a fierce attack, exotic phrasing, beautifully bent and curved tones, and surprisingly full, rich tone; sometimes it's almost a clarinet sound, other times it's a tone that a classical oboist would sell his soul for. Cooper-Moore plays homemade instruments, including flute, percussion, and on his solo piece, "Free Rhythm," a lutelike harp.

The majority of the improvising on Seasoning the Greens is static and unimaginative, apart from the unique sound combinations and Smith's rhythms. Most pieces are collective improvisations centered on the alto, with occasionally eventful ensemble moments and Bill Cole's reed pirouettes, which are always nicely divorced from tempo and meter. No chaotic freakouts, but no high points, either, in this well-recorded concert.

Originally published in April 2003
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