In my view, adding a vocalist to avant-garde jazz is a tricky proposition; it's often hard to match the voice to the root and blend in naturally with the instruments. But I found no such problems with Althea; she knew just when to come in at the right spots and her vocal style was right for the music. It was also easy to find that elusive root thanks to the tremendous job by Dulberger, who plays the bass with precision and clear tone worthy of her esteemed predecessor in the group, William Parker.
Dulberger's crucial work frees everyone else up, and the unusual timbres created be these odd collection of instruments forms the basis of the Untempered Ensemble's unique sonic print. This music isn't necessarily whack jazz because there is dissonance everywherethere isn'tit's progressive because of these exotic mixture of sounds ("A Man Of Outstanding Quality Is Preeminent Among His Comrades" has a very well defined repeating figure). It even swings, as on Poverty Is The Father Of Fear." Smith and Atticus form a formidable percussion team, combining for rhythms that's loose and rooted in African forms, and take its rightful position alongside and not behind the horn players.
Well recorded and mastered by Chuck Eller, this performance by the Untempered Ensemble at the Vision Festival continues a tradition started nearly twenty years ago by Cole, putting together performers both young and old, established and up-and-coming, to forge music representing Bill Cole's singular vision of Eastern and African enhanced jazz.