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Bill Cole

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For the West Virginia politician, see Bill Cole (politician).
Bill Cole (right) performing with Warren Smith in October 2005, Takoma Park, MD. (not pictured: William Parker.)

William (Bill) Shadrack Cole (b. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1937) is an American jazz musician and educator. Cole, most unusually for his genre, specializes in non-Western wind instruments, including the Ghanaian atenteben, Chinese suona, Korean hojok and piri, South Indian nagaswaram, North Indian shehnai, Tibetan trumpet, and Australian didjeridu. Cole has a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, writing his dissertation on the music of John Coltrane.

Cole is the founder and leader of the Untempered Ensemble and has performed with Ornette Coleman, Jayne Cortez, Julius Hemphill, Sam Rivers, James Blood Ulmer, and Fred Ho. He records for the Boxholder label.

He has served as professor of music at Amherst College from 1972 until 1974 and Dartmouth College from 1974 until his retirement in the 1990s. He currently teaches in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University.[1] Beginning in 1983, Cole was targeted by a series of articles in The Dartmouth Review for his unconventional teaching style.[2] After a local newspaper cited the Review articles to call Cole "incompetent", Cole sued the Review for slander.[2] National newspapers published the story, and it was featured on Sixty Minutes. The slander case was settled out of court after two years, but both the Review's and Cole's reputations were damaged.[3] In 1988, three editors to the Dartmouth Review recorded Cole on camera and audio tape during one of his classes, eliciting a violent reaction which damaged the camera.[4] The school charged the three with harassment and disorderly conduct, and suspended them.[4] However, Cole was unable to continue teaching; he said, "I was totally blackballed."[2]

Cole has also authored two books about jazz musician Miles Davis, one entitled Miles Davis: A Musical Biography (W. Morrow Publishers, 1974), and the other entitled Miles Davis: The Early Years (1994, Da Capo Press). Cole also authored a biography of John Coltrane simply entitled John Coltrane (2001, Da Capo Press).


With Billy Bang

  • Billy Bang/Bill Cole (Shadrack, 2010)

With William Parker

With Sam Rivers and Warren Smith

  • The First Cycle (Music from Dartmouth, 1980 [recorded 1975])


"Trayvon Martin Suite," Bill Cole & Joseph Daley, JODAMUSIC RECORDS, 2015. "Sunsum," Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records, December 2014.

"Portraits: Wind, Thunder and Love," Joseph Daley, JODAMUSIC RECORDS, 2014.

"Politics," Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records, 2013.

"As If You Knew", Jayne Cortez, Bola Press, 2011

"Untempered Ensemble," Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records, Spring 2011.

"Billy Bang / Bill Cole," Billy Bang and Bill Cole, Boxholder Records, Winter 2010.

"Proverbs for Sam," Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records, March 2008.

"Double Sunrise Over Neptune," William Parker, Aum Fidelity, January 2008.

"Two Masters at the Prism," Bill Cole & William Parker, Boxholder Records, early 2005.

"Seasoning the Greens," Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records, fall 2002.

"Bill Cole and the Untempered Ensemble, Duets and Solos," Volumes I and II, Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records, 2001.

"Untempered Ensemble Live in Greenfield, Massachusetts," Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records, May 2000.

"Vision ONE," compiled excerpts from "Seasoning the Greens," Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Arts for Art, 1997.

"The Untempered Trio," Shadrack Inc., November 1992.

"Everywhere Drums," Jayne Cortez, Bola Press, 1990.

"There It Is," Jayne Cortez and the Firespitters, Bola Press, October 1982.

"First Cycle," Bill Cole, Sam Rivers and Warren Smith, September 1980.

"Unsubmissive Blues," Jayne Cortez, Bola Press, April 1980.


  • Cole, Bill. Miles Davis: A Musical Biography. New York: W. Morrow, 1974.
  • Cole, Bill (1974). "The Style of John Coltrane, 1955-1967." Ph.D. dissertation. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University.
  • Cole, Bill. John Coltrane. New York: Schirmer Books, 1976.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Ho, Fred Wei-han (2008). "Bill Cole: African American Musician of the Asian Double Reeds". In Fred Wei-han Ho; Bill Mullen. Afro Asia: Revolutionary political and cultural connections between African Americans and Asian Americans. Duke University Press. pp. 263–264. ISBN 0-8223-4281-2. 
  3. ^ Gardner, Howard (2006). Changing minds: The art and science of changing our own and other people's minds. Harvard Business Press. p. 96. ISBN 1-4221-0329-3. 
  4. ^ a b Reidinger, Paul (February 1990). "Sue U. – From classroom to courtroom". ABA Journal: 82. 

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