On Saturday July 1st at 1pm, ethnomusicologist and jazz improvisor Bill Cole will once again convene the lineup of musicians that together create the unique sound of his Thetford Center Front Porch Concerts. This year, however, things will change. The concerts will be held in the Thetford Hill Congregational Church. The group experimented with performing there in October of last year on the occasion of Bill’s 85th birthday and found the space much to their liking.
So, no more cars parked on the side of Tucker Hill Road and no more motley assortment of lawn chairs. And no more squinting through the hot glare of sunlight at musicians on the porch or worrying about rain. Instead, the ensemble will send the energy of their improvised, free-form creation into the lofty acoustic space of the church. And the audience will be able to hear, whether they choose the chairs at the very back or the front pew.
The July 1st line-up will be as follows:
Mali Obomsawin on acoustic bass is an award-winning bassist, vocalist, songwriter, and composer from the Wabanaki First Nation at Odanak. Her musical training spans Berklee and Dartmouth College. She developed a musical versatility that runs the gamut from the improvisational jazz she plays as part of Bill Cole’s Untempered Ensemble to rock, to accompanying singer-songwriters, and playing old-time American Roots music. Her Mali Obomsawin Sextet performed at Dartmouth College in 2021, showcasing compositions inspired by indigenous love, resistance, and the blood politics of Indian Country.
Taylor Ho Bynum is currently the director of the Coast Jazz Orchestra at Dartmouth after leading jazz ensembles at Northeastern University. His chief instrument is the cornet, though he is equally proficient on the flugelhorn, trumpet, and trombone, even the conch and plastic funnel. In his long and varied career, he has recorded with numerous artists and led and recorded with his own sextet, quartet, and septet. Along the way he undertook two Acoustic Bicycle Tours — traveling between performances on a bicycle — first in 2010 in New England and again in 2014 from Canada to Mexico down the US west coast.
Joseph Daley is well known as a jazz master of the tuba, trombone, and euphonium. The Harlem native graduated from the bachelor’s and the master’s programs at the Manhattan School of Music and became a lifelong music educator. He is also an award-winning composer and arranges for and performs with an overwhelming number of prominent jazz musicians. In addition, he has a deep interest in musicology that led to working with performers as diverse as the Tuvan throat singers and the Kronos String Quartet.
Ros Moshe plays many instruments, though he is most often heard on the saxophone and flute. Since the age of nineteen he has been a full-time performing musician, playing and recording with numerous contemporary jazz artists, jazz orchestras and ensembles, and his own quartet and ensembles. Ras divides his time between Brooklyn, NY, and Montpelier, VT, where he spends the summers, participating freely and enthusiastically in Montpelier’s music scene.
Last, but not least, Bill Cole the driving force behind this improvisational jazz ensemble, will play several non-western wind instruments, including the Australian didgeridoo, Indian, Chinese, and Korean double-reeded horns, and Asian flute.
To quote Bill, “The level of musicianship that will be demonstrated is extraordinary, based on both the musicians' talent, and the lived experiences that they have had as musicians.”
It’s nothing short of amazing that this amount of talent will convene in Thetford, VT, of all places. Through improvisation on the fly, they will create sounds that explore the limits of both the instrument and the player and challenge the listener’s concept of music.
Photo credit: Li Shen