Wednesday, November 25, 2015

James Blood Ulmer - 1980 - Are You Glad To Be In America

James Blood Ulmer  
Are You Glad To Be In America

01. Layout   
02. Pressure   
03. Interview   
04. Jazz Is The Teacher (Funk Is The Preacher)   
05. See-Through   
06. Time Out   
07. T.V. Blues   
08. Light Eyed   
09. Revelation March   
10. Are You Glad To Be In America?

James Blood Ulmer: guitar, arranger, composer, producer
Olu Dara: trumpet
Oliver Lake: alto saxophone
David Murray: tenor saxophone
Amin Ali: electric bass
G. Calvin Weston: drums
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums
William Patterson: rhythm guitar

There seems to be a peak moment in most artists' recordings where it all comes together: where the artist still has yet to fall into a formula, where the power of youth meets maturity of expression, where the speakers ooze the excitement of original creation. The Stones' "Exile on Main Street", the Duke Ellington orchestra during the Blanton/Webster era, the Miles Davis & John Coltrane alliance come to mind.

This 1978 recording was made a couple of years after the classic "Tales of Captain Black" with Ornette Coleman. By '78, JBU had absorbed and applied the Harmolodic Principle laid down by his mentor, and was beginning to incorporate his roadhouse rock, church, and blues influences from his early career. All of these elements come together in a perfectly balanced and blended fashion. He would go on to emphasize each of these elements in his later projects, Third Rail for funk, Blues Experience for R&B, Music Revelation Ensemble for free jazz, and some strictly blues releases. For this amalgam, he gathered an awesome all-star cast, many of whom would work with his smaller ensembles, into his biggest band: Amin Ali on bass, Ronald Shannon Jackson & Grant Calvin Weston (either of whom can kick up a percussive storm by themselves) on drums, Olu Dara on cornet, Oliver Lake on alto, and David Murray on tenor. Wow!

Hard to describe this music to the uninitiated; its truly unique. If you have a few of Blood offerings already, your going to feel quite at home with the sound, and might be encouraged to seek some Blood of a different type from the category your familiar with.

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