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Bill Cole (musician)

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Bill Cole (right) performing with Warren Smith in October 2005 in Takoma Park, Maryland

William Shadrack Cole is an American jazz musician, professor of music, and author.[1] Cole 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.[2] Cole has a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. He has written two books, one on Miles Davis and one on John Coltrane.[1] Cole is the founder and leader of the Untempered Ensemble.


Cole was a professor of music at Amherst College from 1972 until 1974 and at Dartmouth College from 1974 until his resignation in 1990.[3][4] As of 2016, Cole is listed as a recent emeritus professor in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University.[5]


Cole has performed with Ornette Coleman, Jayne Cortez, Julius Hemphill, Sam Rivers, James Blood Ulmer, and Fred Ho.[6]

Dartmouth Review controversy

Beginning in 1983, Cole was targeted by a series of articles in The Dartmouth Review for his unconventional teaching style.[7][4] After a local newspaper cited the Review articles to call Cole "incompetent", Cole sued the Review for slander.[7] Cole also sued the Review for libel, but he later dropped that suit.[4] The slander case was settled out of court after two years without The Review admitting guilt or providing any monetary compensation, but both the Review's and Cole's reputations were damaged.[8] 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.[9] The school charged the three with harassment and disorderly conduct, and suspended them.[9] However, Cole was unable to continue teaching; he said, "I was totally blackballed."[7]


Cole wrote a book on Miles Davis entitled Miles Davis: The Early Years[10] (1974) and a book on John Coltrane entitled John Coltrane (1976).[11]

Musical recordings

Solo and with selected artists

  • "The First Cycle" (1980) [recorded 1975]. Bill Cole; Sam Rivers; & Warren Smith, Music from Dartmouth.
  • "Unsubmissive Blues" (1980). Bill Cole & Jayne Cortez, Bola Press.
  • "There It Is" (1982). Jayne Cortez and the Firespitters, with Bill Cole. Bola Press.
  • "Everywhere Drums" (1990). Bill Cole & Jayne Cortez, Bola Press.
  • "The Untempered Trio" (1992). unknown artists, Shadrack.
  • "Two Masters (Live at the Prism)" (2005). Bill Cole & William Parker, Boxholder Records.
  • "Double Sunrise Over Neptune" (2007). Bill Cole & William Parker, AUM Fidelity.
  • "Billy Bang/Bill Cole" (2010). Billy Bang & Bill Cole, Shadrack.
  • "As If You Knew" (2011). Bill Cole & Jayne Cortez, Bola Press.
  • "Portraits: Wind, Thunder and Love" (2014). Bill Cole & Joseph Daley, Jodamusic Records.
  • "Trayvon Martin Suite" (2015). Bill Cole & Joseph Daley, Jodamusic Records.

With the Untempered Ensemble

From various labels

  • "Vision ONE" [excerpts from "Seasoning the Greens"] (1997). Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Arts for Art.

From Boxholder Records

  • "Untempered Ensemble Live in Greenfield, Massachusetts" (2000). Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Boxholder Records.
  • "Bill Cole and the Untempered Ensemble, Duets and Solos, Volumes I and II" (2001).
  • "Seasoning the Greens" (2002).
  • "Proverbs for Sam" (2008).
  • "Untempered Ensemble" (2011).
  • "Politics" (2013).
  • "Sunsum" (2014).


  1. ^ a b Casey, John (February 26, 1989). "AT DARTMOUTH THE CLASH OF '89". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  2. ^ Wilmoth, Charlie (January 27, 2003). "Dusted Reviews: Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble". Dusted Magazine. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  3. ^ Ford, Jane (April 18, 2007). "Master Musician Bill Cole to Perform at 214 Community Art Center April 26". University of Virginia. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "EDUCATION; Target of Paper's Barbs Resigns at Dartmouth". The New York Times. August 22, 1990. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  5. ^ "African American Studies, Syracuse University". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  6. ^ Monroe, Steve. "Jazz Avenues". East of the River. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Ho, Fred Wei-han (2008). "Bill Cole: African American Musician of the Asian Double Reeds". In Ho, Fred Wei-Han & Mullen, Bill. Afro Asia: Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections Between African Americans and Asian Americans (interview-based essay). Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 256–264, esp. 263f. ISBN 0822342812.
  8. ^ Gardner, Howard (2006). Changing minds: The art and science of changing our own and other people's minds. Harvard Business Press. p. 96. ISBN 1422103293.
  9. ^ a b Reidinger, Paul (February 1990). "Sue U. – From classroom to courtroom". ABA Journal: 82.
  10. ^ Cole, Bill (1974). Miles Davis: The Early Years. New York: William Morrow and Company. ISBN 978-0306805547.
  11. ^ Cole, Bill (1976). John Coltrane. Schirmer Books, Inc. ISBN 978-0306810626.

Further reading

  • Cole, Bill (1974). Miles Davis: A Musical Biography. New York City: W.H. Morrow. ASIN B01FIY9X46.
  • Cole, Bill (1976). John Coltrane. New York City: Macmillan/Shirmer. Same volume reprinted 1976, 2001, and 2009, e.g., Cole, Bill (2009). John Coltrane. Cambridge, MA: Perseus/Da Capo. ISBN 978-0-7867-3124-4. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  • Cole, Bill (1994). Miles Davis: The Early Years. Cambridge, MA: Perseus/Da Capo. ISBN 978-0-306-80554-7.

External links