Tuesday, June 01, 2010

James "Blood" Ulmer - In and Out (In+Out, 2009)

Guitarist (and sometimes vocalist) James "Blood" Ulmer has had a lengthy career in creative music, playing harmolodic jazz with Ornette Coleman along with with deep blues and R&B influenced rock 'n' roll. On this album, he combines all of these influences, becoming almost a genre in his own right, playing in a lean trio format with Mark Peterson on bass and Aubrey Doyle on drums. Opening with "No Man's Land" the music recalls some of the protest music that Ulmer recorded in the 1980's, like the excellent "Are You Glad to Be In America." Ulmer has a deep and expressive singing voice, and when he sings about heartbreak and struggle, he really means it. "A Thing For Joe" is one of the finest performances on this disc, with Ulmer improvising strongly on guitar and then switching to flute (!) for a very strong and exciting solo. Ulmer's flute style is blustery and energetic, riding a strong wave of bass and drums in an stirring performance. "My Woman" returns to the bluesy format Ulmer recorded in during his series of well received album for the Hyena label in the previous decade. Deep growling vocals and sharp and agile guitar are the hallmarks of this performance, showing Ulmer's kinship with the great bluesmen of the past but also updating that tradition in a novel way. "High Yellow" is the jazziest presentation on the album, with Ulmer taking on a more fluid tone in his guitar playing and the rhythm section improvising along with him in a nimble and agile manner. The was a very effective album that showcases Ulmer's skills and conception of improvised music very well. In and Out - amazon.com

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