Exposé Online banner

James Blood Ulmer — Blue Blood
(Innerhythmic INR005, 2001, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01

Blue Blood Cover art

One of the things about blues music that always loses my interest is the relative lack of harmonic sophistication: the blues almost by definition stick to a set of three or four chords for each key, and melodies stay mostly within the pentatonic scale. So when a guitar pioneer James Blood Ulmer, after years of exploration at the boundaries of jazz and rock, takes a stab at original songs based on the blues, I’m more than a little intrigued. Some of the vocal tunes come off like a warped version of John Lee Hooker, especially on the album’s opener “O Gentle One,” with solos stepping a bit outside standard tonality. Ulmer, in addition to his harmonic exploration, also uses many effects to good effect, unlike most traditional blues guitarists. Among the vocal tracks are some great instrumentals (“As It Is” and “Momentarily” are the best) with funky grooves and flute doubling the guitar melodies. Producer Bill Laswell contributes some squonky wah-wah bass, and Bernie Worell gets in some great organ work. These tunes remind me of some of the best funk-jazz-fusion of the 70s, like Lenny White. The lyrics on tend toward the gospel side of blues, with two songs centering on religious themes. The other three vocal songs center on love and longing. I have to admit a preference for the instrumental pieces over the vocal ones.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 24, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Bernie Worrell, Bill Laswell, James Blood Ulmer

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Gong Matrices - Gilli Smyth - Parade – For many of us who attended the IPMF in San Francisco in 1999, the long wait in the lobby while Porcupine Tree had ‘technical difficulties’ was rewarded with the unique spectacle of Gilli...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues