Bill Cole & the Untempered Ensemble's latest album "Music for Yoruba Proverbs" is out now! This double CD is a recording of a 1986 performance featuring Bill Cole, Julius Hemphill, Olu Dara, Abdul Wadud, Warren Smith, Joseph Daley, Gerald Veasley and Hafiz Shabazz. The ensemble performs compositions by Cole inspired by the yoruba proverbs passed onto him by Nigerian philosopher and Cole's mentor Fela Sowande. The compositions are arranged by Julius Hemphill.
Review by Ed Hazell in Points of Departure:
"It’s good to have this 1986 concert recording featuring Bill Cole’s compositions arranged by Julius Hemphill made public. Cole’s music always makes provocative connections between musics from around the world, so the material has plenty of ideas to inspire Cole’s all-star ensemble. These compositions use the speech patterns of the proverbs in the melodies. You can sense the words “One should not go to bed with the roof on fire” as the band plays the tune, for instance. The rhythms driving the music come from different corners of the African diaspora, giving the music a global reach. Cole extends that reach eastward playing a range of reed instruments from non-Western cultures. His discovery of sonic parallels to the blues and the vocal inflections of jazz on Korean and Chinese instruments underscores bitter hope and celebratory humanity that underlies all music. Every time he plays, he stages an uprising of non-European and folk cultures demanding respect and equality.
The octet assembled on the double CD includes Cole, Hemphill, Olu Dara, Abdul Wadud, Warren Smith, Joe Daley, Gerald Veasley, and Hafiz Shabazz. They hadn’t worked together before as a unit but knew one another, so a warm, collective spirit and a precise looseness borne of familiarity and shared values suffuses their playing. That communal feeling is not to be underestimated – in many ways it’s the core from which the music emanates. The layered rhythm foundation built up by electric bass, cello, drums, percussion, and euphonium elevates Cole’s soloing on 'He who beats a drum for a madman to dance is no better than the madman' (hear that Congressional Republicans?). On 'A tormentor makes his victims hardy,' the horns join in as they wish as Daley and Hemphill solo, climaxing in powerful group improvisation.
'A man sees a snake, a woman kills it; no matter as long as it is dead' features a Hemphill solo that captures the essence of the blues in a radical setting (no one did this quite as well as him). Daley displays his luscious lyrical side and an irresistible sense of rhythm on the upbeat 'To live with a humble man refreshes the spirit.' The leader encapsulates the spirit of the music each time he solos. His keening, joyful sound and gritty textures, coupled with his swinging phrasing, on 'To sow is to reap, one who excretes on the road finds flies when they return' liberate the ideals and aspirations of his unique vision and let them soar."
You can order the CD via e-mail: just send your request to