John Coltrane

John Coltrane, published by Schirmer Books, Inc., December 1976. Translated into Japanese, 1984. Reprinted by Da Capo Press, 1993.  Third Edition published Fall, 2001. 

Here is the book that distinguished music critic Leonard Feather called a "brilliantly perceptive examination of the forces that shaped Coltrane's brief life." Illustrating the influence of African folklore and spirituality on Coltrane's work and sound, Bill Cole creates an innovative portrait of the legendary tenor saxophonist. With illustrative diagrams, a discography, and more than twenty photographs, this is an essential addition to every jazz fan's library.

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Miles Davis: The Early Years

Miles Davis: The Early Years (originally Miles Davis: A Musical Biography, published by William Morrow and Company, September 1974. Translated into Japanese, 1975. Translated into Swedish, 1976.) Reprinted by De Capo Press, 1994

Bill Cole's study of the music of Miles Davis covers his career from his first meeting with Charlie Parker up to his experimentation with electric music in the early 1970s. Cole sheds new light not only on Miles Davis's technique, recordings, and philosophy, but on those of his fellow musicians as well: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, and Charles Mingus, among others. Supplemented with thirteen musical transcriptions of his solos and a complete list of his recording sessions through 1972, Miles Davis: The Early Years illuminates much more than the life and work of one of jazz's most innovative musicians: It explores the very nature of African American music itself.

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Other Writings

”Billy Bang – Vietnam, the Aftermath/Billy Bang – Vietnam, Reflections,” International Jazz Archives, University of Pittsburgh, Vol. III No. 3, Fall 2009-2010.

The path I have taken and the instruments I play,” in All About Jazz, August, 2003

Articles on John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro, and Roy Eldridge; in the Encyclopedia of African American History and Culture; MacMillan Publishing Co., Dec. 1995.

"Julius Hemphill," The Saxophone Journal, Spring 1987, pp. 26-31.

"Wind and Thunder," The Western Journal of Black Studies, winter 1986, pp. 193-194.

"Alice Coltrane," New Groves Dictionary of Music, September 1986.

"The World Saxophone Quartet - A Unique Springboard," The Saxophone Journal, Spring 1986, pp. 43-46.

Review of Jah Music by Sebastian Clarke, published in Explorations in Sights and Sounds, March 1983, the National Association of Interdisciplinary Ethnic Studies, California State Polytechnic University.

"Improvisation in Music - A Black's View," published in Free Spirits: Annals of the Insurgent Imagination, City Lights Books, San Francisco, Summer 1982.

"Giving Programs in School Assemblies in the Mid-West," Campus Magazine, spring 1980, pp. 37-40.

Music Editor of Massachusetts Review, Fall 1973.  A quarterly of literature, arts, and public affairs.

Articles of criticism published in CODA, 1972-1973.

Freelance writing for Down Beat Magazine, 1970-1972.  Over 45 articles of criticism published. Personal column, fall 1971. 


Bill Cole, an 84 year old Black citizen of Vermont, is presenting a series of FREE Outdoor concerts with his talented all-BIPOC ensemble of musicians Saturday September 10th at 1:00 pm and Tuesday October 11th at 1:00 pm on the South Royalton Green.

The line up includes… The 88 year old percussion legend Warren Smith whose career spans 50 years of accompanying stars like Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin and Van Morrison as well as Joseph Daly (Brass), Ras Moshe (Sax), Taylor Ho Bynum, (Cornet, Trombone. and Conch), Althea SullyCole (Senagalese Kora), Mali Obomsawin (Bass) and Olivia Shortt (Baritone Sax).

The group, known as The Untempered Ensemble, has performed throughout the region and uses their highly developed, culturally enriched, instrumental skills to create spontaneous, never-before-heard improvisations.

“The Untempered Ensemble…continues a tradition started nearly twenty years ago by Cole, putting together performers both young and old, established and up-and-coming, to forge music representing Bill Coles’ singular vision of Eastern, Indigenous and African enhanced Jazz.” S. Victor Aaron (co-founder and publisher @ something else)

On October 11th, audiences will get the opportunity to hear the World Premier of Bill Cole’s improvisations based on the proverbs of the Yoruba of Nigeria.

These performances are funded by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Community Foundation and support from BALE (Building A Local Economy) in South Royalton. Rain accommodations will be available.

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