Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble

Duets & Solos, Vol. 2

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The second volume of this Boxholder collection combines the leader on his exotic flute, sona, nagaswarm, and hojok with some more "normal" instruments one might find in any stage band, such as alto saxophone, tuba, baritone horn, and string bass. With such strong improvisers as William Parker and the incomparable Joseph Daley on tuba, it is hardly routine music that emerges. Cole goes beyond the traditional expectations of the instruments just as his partners do, and the sound combinations of such diverse instruments being played with so much attention and taste do not fail to please. Sometimes one can practically hear the musicians thinking as they build their phrases around each other; if you are looking for background sound, go somewhere else. The stuff Daley and Cole get going on one of their duets is perfectly summarized by part of the piece's title; the duo plays as one and it is "a man of outstanding quality...." The 16-minute "Last Will be First, First Will be Last" is pretty impressive, and a needed counterweight to the populist philosophy expressed by mobster Richard Conte in The Big Combo: "First is first, second is nothing."

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