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

Glenn Astarita By

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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 Patton, Ronnie Drayton and many other luminaries in the jazz and blues world. While Ulmer burst into the jazz scene in the 1970's, critics took notice of recordings like Black Rock and the recently re-released classic Odyssey. His guitar style was unusual for its day. Hendrix takes on Ornette with reckless abandon.

During the 1980's and 1990's Ulmer lapsed into some very spotty recording ventures (ala Blues Preacher and the recent Bill Laswell collaboration Third Rail, a rather uneventful and pedestrian stab at blues / funk). Thankfully, Music Speaks Louder Than Words finds Ulmer concentrating his abundant energies and talents re-working some Coleman classics and some original compositions.

Among the original comps are three harmless and quite entertaining vocal tracks. Ulmer is backed by Calvin Jones and Amin Ali on bass; Amin's famous dad Rashied Ali is on drums, Aubrey Dayle on drums and Micheal Mustafa UImer on the keys. Their support is unobtrusive and merely back-drop for Ulmer's fine guitar inventions. Throughout, Ulmer's approach is similar to a scat singer's vocal gyrations. He flirts, insinuates themes and crunches notes while paying homage to the patented harmolodic concept.

This is the recording Ulmer fans have been waiting for. The festivities are celebratory! Ulmer is a talented and unique voice on the guitar. Better yet, he swings ! His gruffy voice is a nice equalizer on such original's as "Dance in the Dark" and "I Can't Take Anymore." A well balanced affair and highly recommended.


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