Monday, June 06, 2011

James "Blood" Ulmer - Live at the Bayerischer Hof (In+Out 1994, 2011)

Guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer is one of the most iconoclastic musicians on the modern scene. Equally at home with free-jazz, blues and R&B, Ulmer is at his best when he combines all of the musical aspects of his personality as he does on this excellent live album. Dubbing this band the “Blues Experience” you can tell which direction his is leaning in along with his band mates Amin Ali on electric bass, and Aubrey Dayle on drums and percussion. Beginning with the sweet and funky strains of “Burning Up,” Ulmer’s vocals come in with a low key and mysterious nature. Strong, sharp flavored guitar buries the mumbled vocals, but the deep funk groove more than makes up for it. Ulmer’s unique crunchy guitar sound builds in an unclassifiable way on “Church” with a section of extraordinary trio improvisation front and center before downshifting to a dynamic open-ended conclusion. After a vocal centered slow grind on “Crying,” the band ramps things back up for “Let Me Take You Home” with its fast and strong R&B nature. With a wonderful guitar and drums conversation around strong bass pivot, they develop a wicked improvisation. “Boss Lady” uses some fine drumming and fills to good effect, and Ulmer is strong throughout the killer instrumental section. “Street Bride” is another unique highlight of the set, a storming blues with deft guitar playing that develops into a steaming collective improvisation. It’s nice to have this album back in circulation, and it is sure to boost Ulmer’s considerable reputation as a guitarist who can play in any context or situation you can imagine. Live at the Bayerischer Hof -

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