Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Odyssey the Band - Back in Time (Pi Recordings, 2005)

In the early 1980's, James "Blood" Ulmer released a trio album called Odyssey on the Columbia label in the company of a violinist and a drummer. Now, nearly twenty-five years later, Ulmer has reunited with the band under the Odyssey banner. The music is that of a collective band with no instrumental leader, all trying to flow together toward a common cause. Ulmer breaks out some vocals, sounding like he's trying to channel Clark Terry's "Mumbles" character on "Little Red House" as he sings funky and naughty about taking his lady back to said abode.

The band brings some angular funk on "Open Door," with a nice violin solo and some good group interplay. "Water Tree" gets pretty funky as well with a swinging violin solo. Things can get a little subdued at times, like on the ballad "Love Nest" where the music meanders without taking shape. While this album is an interesting departure for Ulmer, whose last several projects have been strictly blues related, the studio environment seems to constrict the group and deaden the sound, although I bet this group would sound spectacular live - let's hope Pi keeps that in mind for a future project.

Send comments to: Tim