"Two Masters Live At The Prism," recorded in 2004, is the sole duo recording of long-term collaborators William Parker and Bill Cole. They album exhibits the mastery of their techniques on an extensive list of instruments from around the world; with Bill Cole on the Australian didgeridoo, Ghanian flute, Chinese suona, Indian shehnai, Indian nadaswaram, Korean hojok, and voice; and William Parker on Bass, Malian Donso Ngoni, Indonesian flute, Dunno (a "Talking Drum"), whistle, and voice.


Over the years William Parker and Bill Cole have taken improvisation to new plateaus, through both individual projects and Cole's Untempered Ensemble, of which Parker is a member. This is their first full recording as a duo. They play a host of instruments from around the world, and given their credentials, it is not surprising that they have understood the instruments and mastered the technique of playing them as well. … At the end of it all, this record serves as an illuminating example of the intuitive relationship that Cole and Parker share.”

— Jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz

Live at the Prism: Parker is one of Two Masters, in an altogether different setting with double-reed specialist Bill Cole. Parker largely plays bass in Cole's Untempered Ensemble, but here he draws from an array of exotic Eastern and African instruments for six meditative and exploratory duets. On the opening "Angels in Golden Mud, Parker's lovely doson ngoni resonates like a harp cut from oak. https://billcole.org/reviews "Election Funeral Dance begins frenetically but morphs into a mournful wailing dirge for two voices. Each improvisation in this concert combines tonal textures in a successful bid to revitalize through the healing qualities of music.”

— Jeff Stockton, All About Jazz

Live at the Prism: Two Masters reaches even further [beyond emulation for its own progressive means], past the orthodoxies of harmony and rhythm. Taking the lead of multi-reedist Bill Cole, in whose Untempered Ensemble [Parker] plays, Parker rifles through a handful of nonwestern instruments: Indonesian flute, Malian harplike doson ngoni and African talking drum among them. The results are incantatory and almost fully abstract-if Cole and Parker aren't free-improvising, then they're doing a good impression of it. Melodies do emerge organically, as on "Bird and Branch." But this isn't music about line or form so much as spirit.”

— Nate Chinen, Jazz Times

Bill Cole and William Parker Two Masters Live at the Prism (3 stars); … [T]his enchanting collaboration [] investigates Afro-Asian textures without entirely losing sight of the blues continuum in which Parker is squarely anchored. Conceivably, the master stroke here is the highly vocal quality that the two players bring to the deployment of both [] high register double reed instruments and rumbling, low register strings and percussion. Their very expressionistic phrasing, a plaintive exclamatory character infuses the disc, and the generous space each player allows the other lets the distinct tonalities breathe and blend like single notes and chords on the same keyboard....”

— JazzWise

You've got to wonder whether Parker or Cole felt the slightest bit self-conscious about dubbing themselves Two Masters in the title of this all-improvised duo set. Not that it's a matter for much dispute. ... Bill Cole is [] known for his work on various exotic instruments, especially with his Untempered Ensemble and there's something about the Chemistry between him and Parker that is always especially potent. The music here brings to mind the motto of Chicago's AACM artists' group, Great Black Music: Ancient To The Future, as it runs from moments of supremely advanced free-improvisation through long passages of the most elementally beautiful folk song.”

— David Keenan, Sunday Herald

[O]n Two Masters: Live at the Prism Parker and Cole get the opportunity to more fully explore a kind of world music-meets-free improvisation aesthetic. The result is a recording that stretches all kinds of boundaries, at the same time retaining the somewhat insulated feeling of two players in deep communion. … Two Masters is most interesting because of the wealth of textures and combination of instruments brought together from diverse cultures for perhaps the first time... While the entire programme is freely improvised, it's not without a sense of logic, as each player sometimes reacts, at other times pushing forward and expecting the other to follow…[L]isteners will find the music on Two Masters challenging, in no small part due to the harsh nature of Cole's instruments. But that shouldn't frighten the unconventionally-minded from enjoying two masters of improvisation coming together for a spontaneous meeting of the spirits.”

— John Kelman, All About Jazz