Wednesday, November 25, 2015

James Blood Ulmer - 1982 - Black Rock

James Blood Ulmer  
Black Rock

01. Open House
02. Black Rock
03. Moon Beam
04. Family Affair
05. More Blood
06. Love Have Two Faces
07. Overnight
08. Fun House
09. We Bop

Bass - Amin Ali
Drums - Calvin Weston , Cornell Rochester
Guitar - Ronald Drayton
Vocals, Guitar, Producer - James Blood Ulmer
Saxophone - Sam Sanders (A3,B3)
Vocals - Irene Datcher (A4,B4)

Every now and then, Columbia decides to back an avant-garde musician of some note. Their association usually lasts two albums and then the label parts ways with the artist. It's happened with Ornette, Arthur Blythe, David Murray, Henry Threadgill (later), and many others. This time around, Blood got the nod, and true to Columbia's form he got this album and Odyssey out before being unceremoniously dropped (I'm blanking on whether or not Free Lancing is also on Columbia, but it doesn't change my story significantly even if so). Luckily, Blood made the most of his short major label life, turning in what for me ranks as his finest avant-jazz/funk record (this one) and then what still holds for me as simply his best album (Odyssey). It feels like after refining the  jazz/funk for three records, he finally hit his stride, with what stands as the wildest and weirdest of the bunch, and what is no doubt aided immeasurably by the presence of a second guitar. Like most of his stuff, I like it when the band just goes for broke, but here even when he decides to step up to the mike it's as weird, wild and woolly as the music itself can get without vocals. I still think Odyssey is his finest hour, but this runs a close second, and when I want something a little edgier, this is what I go for.

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