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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: In And Out

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The title of this record is simultaneously a tip of the hat toward the record label which released it and an appropriate explanation of the music contained within. James Blood Ulmer's sound resides at the crossroads where Jimi Hendrix's blues-rock collides with Ornette Coleman's music; where gutsy blues songs meet the avant-garde. His voice bears some similarity to Hendrix's--with a little bit of Richie Havens' low end thrown in and a primordial blues delivery that's earth-shaking, brilliant, and increasingly expressive as the years go by. Throughout these ten tracks, Ulmer--joined by bassist Mark Peterson and drummer Aubrey ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions

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"Blood wrote these songs that are the essence of the blues," suggests producer and guitarist Vernon Reid. “They're politically incorrect, they're sad and haunting, they're pissed off and on an existential level, they address the complicated concept that is America, which is something Blood's been dealing with since the beginning of his career."

You might forgive a certain about of hyperbole from the producer, but even one listen to Bad Blood in the City proves that what Reid posits is absolutely true: This inscrutable bluesman's set carves out rough-hewn electric screams that transcend blues music to become blues ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James "Blood" Ulmer: Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions

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Almost two years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Bad Blood In The City arrives. During its chaotic aftermath, Harmolodic guitarist and futuristic bluesman James “Blood" Ulmer penned a number of tunes inspired by the events surrounding the disaster. Bolstered by a half dozen classic blues tunes, this concept record serves as a harrowing reminder of the tragedy.

Recorded at Piety Street Studios in New Orleans, Ulmer leads his seven-piece Memphis Blood Blues Band in a rough and tumble selection of lyrically poignant diatribes. One of five originals, the powerhouse opener “Survivor's of the Hurricane," rides a wicked ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions

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The Piety recording studio, where James Blood Ulmer recorded Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions, stands on the corner of Piety and Dauphine Streets, the original route of the famous Desire streetcar line in New Orleans' ninth ward. In an early scene from Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley enters the kitchen leaving the door open so that “the perpetual blue piano" can be heard from the neighborhood. “This blue piano," Williams explains, “expresses the spirit of life which goes on here."

In New Orleans, two years after Hurricane Katrina, the music and ...

INTERVIEWS

James Blood Ulmer: There is Another Place to Go

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Guitarist James Blood Ulmer's played his way through a veritable history of American music. Beginning guitar as a four-year-old in 1946, Ulmer was singing professionally with the gospel group The Southern Sons while still in grade school. Ulmer went on to play guitar on the national R&B/doo-wop chitlin' circuit until he devoted himself to jazz, becoming something of a Wes Montgomery imitator until he reinvented himself as, well, himself, playing in Detroit in the 1960s with the likes of Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. A trip to New York in 1971 led to a tragically unrecorded tenure with Ornette Coleman ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: Birthright

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James Blood Ulmer continues the all-out assault on the blues that he began with 2001's Memphis Blood and continued with No Escape From the Blues, released in 2003. After thirty years riding the edge of the avant-garde with the harmolodic Ornette Coleman and others, Ulmer emerges as a rural blues Sun Ra, a 21st century musical prophet with an irreverent smattering of Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Cecil Taylor.

Birthright is ostensibly a solo “acoustic blues recording, but saying that is like saying John Coltrane's Giant Steps was a mere hard bop recording. Both statements are technically truthful, but both are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: No Escape from the Blues: The Electric Lady Sessions

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James Blood Ulmer's raw, aggressive guitar work with Ornette Coleman, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and others established him as one of the brightest lights in contemporary jazz. By adapting elements of rock (particularly Jimi Hendrix) and blues to Coleman's melodic language and incorporating bizarre alternate tunings, Ulmer, along with Sonny Sharrock and Derek Bailey, was one of the few early guitarists to find a voice in free jazz. With No Escape from the Blues, however, free jazz doesn't seem to be on Ulmer's mind these days.

The brainchild of producer and guitarist Vernon Reid, the album places Ulmer's guitar and gravelly ...



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