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Highlights: A gifted improviser returns to the Upper Valley

  • Jazz musician Bill Cole at his home in Thetford, Vt., on June 4, 2019. He is performing at ArtisTree in Pomfret, Vt on June 9. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Randolph native Myra Flynn brings her soulful vocals, and bassist Paul Boffa, to First Branch Coffee in South Royalton on from 8 to 10 on Thursday night. See 'Best bets' for more information. (Jack Rowell photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Leave it to jazz man Bill Cole to improvise his way out of a jam.

Preparing to play his first formal concert in the Upper Valley as the headliner since returning to the area in 2017, the former Vermont Public Radio host and Dartmouth College professor turned composer and bandleader learned last week that the trumpeter he was counting on couldn’t make it for Sunday’s improvisational show at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret.

Not to worry: After some calling and emailing around to his network of musicians, Cole secured the short-notice services of Amherst, Mass.-based violinist Terry Jenoure, and tweaked the tunes he’d been composing for the trumpeter, renowned bassist Gerald Veasley and Cole’s own arsenal of non-Western woodwinds and horns.

“I’ve been playing professionally for 49 years, so I know a lot of people,” Cole, 81, said this week. “I was really happy that (Jenoure) was available. She’s a very, very talented person. She’s worked with a lot of great people, like (saxophonist) Archie Shepp and (the late woodwind master) John Carter.”

Veasley’s got game, too, having collaborated on stage and in the recording studio with the likes of Teddy Pendergrass, Grover Washington Jr. and The Dixie Hummingbirds, as well as with Cole’s Untempered Ensemble.

“He’s one of the best in the world,” Cole said. “People make instruments for him to play.”

This Sunday’s concert is the next step in Cole’s mission to share the music he loves with the Upper Valley, which he left in 1990 after years of clashes with the alt-right Dartmouth Review student newspaper over the educational and cultural value of his classes in world music.

In the early and mid-1990s, while his wife Sarah Sully pursued a law degree, Cole put together the Untempered Ensemble, composed music, performed his wide array of non-Western wind instruments and recorded with the likes of Ornette Coleman, taught at Syracuse University, wrote books on jazz and world music, and with Sully raised two daughters.

He also kept acquiring and learning to play a United Nations of wind instruments, among them the Australian didgeridoo and double-reed horns such as the Chinese sola, the Korean piri and the Indian nagaswaram. Since returning to the Upper Valley, Cole has been refining his technique at venues ranging from practice sessions with Woodstock jazz pianist Sonny Saul and senior citizen lunches in North Thetford to the weekly jam sessions at BALE Commons in South Royalton and a recent gig at ArtisTree as side man to his daughter, West African kora player and musicologist Althea SullyCole.

“Wherever I’ve been, people just loved hearing this stuff,” Cole said “They really took to it.”

Cole now is applying for grants, including one from the Vermont Arts Council, to possibly bring his full Untempered Ensemble to perform in the Upper Valley in the fall and next spring.

“I’m gonna be here till my life is over,” he said. “My goal is to get Vermonters acquainted with a more progressive jazz situation.”

Bill Cole, Gerald Veasley and Terry Jenoure perform improvisational jazz on Sunday afternoon at 4 at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. Admission $10.

Best bets

The New London Barn Playhouse opens its 62nd summer this weekend, with its acting interns performing the company’s Straw Hat Revue five times from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon. The Barn then stages its first musical of the season, The Pajama Game, from Wednesday night to June 23. To order complimentary tickets for the revue, and to reserve seats for The Pajama Game and subsequent shows, call 603-526-6710.

■Randolph-native soul singer-songwriter Myra Flynn and bassist Paul Boffa perform from 8 to 10 on Thursday night at First Branch Coffee Company and Upper Pass Beer Tasting Room in South Royalton. Admission is $10.

■Talk about your encores: White River Indie Films (WRIF) is inviting cinephiles and fans of the late Aretha Franklin to Hartford High School, on Saturday night at 7, for a free screening of Amazing Grace, the restored documentary of the soul singer’s 1972 concert with the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts.

■Flutist Leslie Stroud, clarinetist Meghan Davis, violinist/violist Marshall Meade, cellist Margaret Gilmore and pianist Henry Danaher play works of Bach, Schubert, Ives and Aram Khachaturian on Saturday night at 7, at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon. Admission is by donation to the Upper Valley Humane Society.

■Wilder roots musician Jes Raymond brings her banjo to The Skinny Pancake in Hanover on Wednesday night at 6, to play a two-hour session of “String Band Karaoke.”

Music

Hartland singer-songwriter Jay Nash, Americana, Thursday night at 5:30 during Feast and Field Market at Fable Farm in Barnard. Donations welcome.

■Organist Norm Yanofsky, saxophonist Fred Haas and guitarist Billy Rosen, jazz, Thursday night at 6 at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover, and on the Lebanon downtown mall on Friday night at 6:15.

■Anonymous Coffeehouse, folk-roots series, Friday night at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon. Performances at 7:30 by Oxford & Clark, at 8:15 by Harmony Hotel and at 9 by Derek Burkins. Admission is by donation.

■The Glory Reel, Celtic/folk, Friday night at 7 at Library Arts Center in Newport. Admission $16 in advance (visit libraryartscenter.org or call 603-863-3040), $20 at the door.

■Pine Hill Singers, women’s chorus, mix of classical, contemporary, Broadway, pop, patriotic and world music, Friday night at 7 at Court Street Arts’ Alumni Hall in Haverhill. Admission by donation.

■Singer-songwriter Julie Snow, roots-folk, Friday night at 7 at Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse in Sunapee Harbor. Admission by donation.

■Turnip Truck, roots-Americana, Saturday morning and afternoon at Norwich Farmers Market.

■Arthur James, blues, Saturday night at 6:15 on Lebanon downtown mall.

■Still Hill, bluegrass, Saturday night at 7 at Strafford Town House. Admission by donation.

■Acoustic guitarist Doug Perkins, folk-roots, Saturday night at 7:30 at North Common Arts in Chelsea. Admission $10.

■Rusty Berrings Brass Band, jazz, Wednesday night at 6:30 at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction.

Bar and club circuit

Singer-guitarists Sky King and Dane Anderson, Thursday night at 6 at Peyton Place in Orford; singer-songwriter Rebecca Turmel, Sunday night at 6.

■Doc Tom’s Band, roots rock, Thursday night at 7 at Windsor Station; Maiden Voyage, Mister Burns and New Fame, hip-hop, Friday night at 10; Moxley Union, rock, Saturday night at 9:30; singer-songwriter-bassist Mowgli, Tuesday night at 6.

■Jazz trio of bassist Peter Concilio, keyboardist Bruce Sklar and drummer Tim Gilmore plays tribute to Thelonius Monk and Horace Silver, Friday night at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland.

■The Honey Badgers, folk, Friday night at 9 at Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon; Bob & Shane, folk-rock, Saturday afternoon at 4.

■ Richie Hackett, acoustic rock, Friday night at 9 at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon; Hey, Dana! and Spare Soul, rock, Saturday night at 9.

■Guitarist Ted Mortimer, Friday night at 9 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover; The Honey Badgers, folk, Saturday night at 9.

■Alec Currier, rock, Saturday night at 9 at Salt hill Pub in Newport.

■ Royalton singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner, Sunday afternoon at 2 at SILO Distillery in Windsor.

■Jim Yeager, rock/funk, Monday night at 7 at Woodstock Inn’s Richardson Tavern.

■Saxophonist Michael Parker and guitarist Norm Wolfe, jazz and soul, Tuesday night at 6 at Crossroads Bar and Grill in South Royalton.

■Jazz pianist Sonny Saul, Wednesday night at 6:30 at On the River Inn in Woodstock.

Open mics / jam sessions

Alec Currier hosts at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, Thursday nights at 8.

■Joe Stallsmith’s hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass, Monday nights at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

■Fiddler Jakob Breitbach’s acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music, Tuesday nights at 7 at Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

■Tom Masterson hosts an open mic, Tuesday nights at 7 at Colatina Exit, in Bradford, Vt.

■Jim Yeager hosts open mics at ArtisTree Community Arts Center, Thursday night at 7; at The Public House Pub in Quechee, Tuesday night at 6; and at Skunk Hollow Tavern, Wednesday night at 8.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Send entertainment news to highlights@vnews.com.