Margaret and Katie (2022)


On January 22nd, 2021, my cousin died. She was 109. Her name was Margaret Chisley, and for me, this was a great loss. She had been bedridden for several years, but was still lucid and able to remember facts about my father's heritage. She was aligned with my father's generation. She remembered what her grandmother told her about being enslaved. She knew the situation when the master sold to her primary family the house in which she was still living in Alexandria, Virginia. She told me that the deed to the house was in a recipe book in the kitchen. She had numerous stories about my father and my uncles. She revered the Cole family because her mother's sister was married to my grandfather, who was the first Black detective in the history of the Pittsburgh, PA Police Department. Margaret was a secretary to a lawyer and took depositions in shorthand, while none of the other secretaries could. She was also the first Black secretary of the Education Department of Alexandria, Virginia. She would type term papers for her nieces in high school and in college. She was an incredibly skilled person. She kept all her knowledge in her head and gave it to me. 

Katie Claybourne was the niece to Margaret and her caretaker when Margaret became ill. This family is a very tight and loving one. Margaret's sister had three girls and Katie, the youngest, helped her sisters when they became ill. For the last two decades of Margaret's life, Katie was there to do whatever had to be done.

The Untempered Ensemble features Bill Cole (Asian double-reeds & didgeridoo), Joseph Daley (tuba & baritone horn), Ras Moshe-Burnette (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone & flute), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn, double-belled cornet, conch shell & mutes) Althea SullyCole (kora), Mali Obomsawin (acoustic bass), and Warren Smith (percussion). This disc was recorded live in Hanover, New Hampshire in October of 2021. The titles of all but one piece come from Yoruba proverbs.


...double-reed virtuoso, composer and bandleader, Bill Cole, is longtime Spirit Jazz master, who plays at the Vision Festival on occasion and quietly releases discs on his own label. His music has a way of casting a spell on anyone who listens closely, when the cosmic forces are revealed...This is the 11th disc by Mr. Cole’s Untempered Ensemble and each one that I’ve heard has always touched me...Master percussionist, Warren Smith, plays suspense-filled tympani(s) when the first piece, “Family” begins. It sounds like the dawn of mankind with several drones coalescing: didgeridoo, conch shell, flute and brass all hovering together. All members of the Untempered Ensemble are vibrating together as one force, with Mr. Cole’s enchanting double reed floating on top. On “Help Me During the Rainy Season…”, Mr. Cole has several layers calmly buzzing together: tenor sax, cornet, baritone horn, kora, bass and drums with that cosmic double-reed on top. Although the music is free (spirit music), there is a deep connection going on here. What holds this together and provides one of the main magic ingredients is/are a handful of lush, transcendent themes that the entire ensemble play together as they float/flow from one space/sonic environment to the next one. Today (4/13/22) it is cool & sunny here and it feels like the first day of Spring. This lovely, organic music fits with the inspiring sunlight & cool breeze coming in my kitchen window. Sometimes, it just feels great to be alive and that is what this disc reminds me of most of all.”

— Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery