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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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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: No Escape From The Blues

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While best known for his work with Ornette Coleman and in the modern jazz world, James “Blood" Ulmer has recorded two fantastic blues records recently. His follow up to Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions is the equally provocative and musically exciting work No Escape From The Blues. 2003 was declared the year of the blues by Congress and what has flooded the market has been a series of reissues and recompiling of older material that give the appearance that blues has gone as far as it can go as a progressive music – and perhaps the best ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: No Escape From the Blues

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Jazz Raconteur James Blood Ulmer began his blues march with the release of 2001’s Memphis Blood . On that release Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, convinced that Ulmer was one of the last great blues singers, wanted to record the iconoclast in Memphis at the famed Sun Studios. The result was a collection of blues standards presented in a way that can only be described as enigmatic genius. Dense and dedicated, Ulmer’s blues vision is large and impressive in a Chester Burnett sort of way.

Memphis Blood is a formidable disc to follow up. Again under the direction of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: Blue Blood

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Blood Ulmer has always been a guitarist to watch. His leaps are blindingly quick; his pauses deafeningly still. Unfortunately his work on record has a checkered past, with masterpieces standing alongside throwaway sellout performances. Blue Blood, an obvious sequel to the most excellent record by Third Rail, features some of the same performers and a similar feel, but unfortunately falls far short.

Third Rail's South Delta Space Age, engineered (in a broad sense) by Bill Laswell, brought together complementary elements of Southern funk, blues, and raw-edged improvisation. Tunes like “Funk All Night" revealed a quirky humor and soulful blaze. Blue ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer: Memphis Blood

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Memphis Blood could very possibly be as historic a recording as Howlin' Wolf's Evil .

Everything about this release is Romantic. The music ranges from some of the earliest recorded blues for the 1920s to novelty tunes from the '50s and '60s. The recording venue is perhaps the most famous ever, the home of seminal recordings by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Howlin' Wolf, and Ike Turner, not to mention Elvis Presley. The universal concept of man reckoning with his past is pregnant with the water breaking on Memphis Blood. James Blood Ulmer, that harmolodic guru of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Blood Ulmer Artists: Music Speaks Louder Than Words "Plays The Music Of Ornette Coleman"

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The latest and perhaps most satisfying James Bllod Ulmer release since his 70's classic Odyssey, finds the harmolodic guitarist taking on six Ornette Coleman tunes and three originals. Ulmer's interpretations of “Lonely Woman," “Elizabeth" and “Skies of America" stay true to the original thematic developments and trademark Coleman harmolodic invention. Ulmer's deeply embedded blues roots and expansive knowledge of master Ornette provide the necessary fundamentals and savvy to execute such an undertaking.

Ulmer's bio is impressive. He has worked extensively with the Music Revelation Ensemble (David Murray, Jamalsdeen Tacuma, Ronald Shannon Jackson, et al), Bill Laswell, John ...



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