James Blood Ulmer
Though his career has been inconsistent, Ulmer's had enough "on" moments to rank as one of the most exciting jazz guitarists of the past twenty years. He's instantly recognizable for his jagged, knotty phrasing and unique harmonic sense. Comfortable working in a wide variety of genres, from Funk and rock to Bop and Soul Jazz, Ulmer is best known as an exponent of the so-called "Free Funk" genre spawned by saxophonist and mentor Ornette Coleman's mid-1970s electric band Prime Time. Tales of Captain Black (1978) and Are You Glad to Be in America? (1980) are prime examples of this style, blending aggressive rock/Funk dynamics with frantic, constantly morphing group interplay. Their success, however, painted Ulmer into an avant-garde corner he didn't want to be in; his inclusion of more "straight" blues and R&B-oriented songs (featuring his own gravelly vocals) on subsequent records alienated many listeners who found the results unfocused. By the late '90s, he shifted to a more compartmentalized approach to releasing records, and in doing so has regained some of the momentum he lost in the mid-1980s.
James Blood Ulmer Concert Films
Solos: The Jazz Sessions
James Blood Ulmer
Runtime: 50 minJames Blood Ulmer is one of the few guitarists to have forged a style based largely on the traditions of African-American vernacular music. Ulmer is an adherent of saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman's vaguely defined Harmelodic theory and plays with a stuttering, vocalic attack; his jagged lines speak with the authority of a free jazz improviser and the accent of a soul-jazz tenor saxophonist. His solo guitar work is an expressive, hard-edged, loudly amplified hybrid. But Ulmer isn't limited in his musical scope. In these sessions, he reveals himself to be an instant inventor of repute on the flute and a memorable songwriter and blues singer.
James Blood Ulmer Top Tracks
New Morning: The Paris Concert
Runtime: 1 hr 56 minJohn is considered one of the most important and influential jazz guitarists and composers since he arrived on the scene in the mid '70s. A masterful improviser at the peak of his creative art, Scofield revisits compositions & interpretations richly combining post-bop, funk-edged jazz, and R&B influences. This brilliant performance by John Scofield (backed by master drummer Bill Stewart, bassist Ben Street and pianist Michael Eckroth) is a true gem.
Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue
Runtime: 1 hr 27 minWhen he released "Bitches Brew" in 1970, Miles Davis opened up a new angle to jazz which stirred up emotions like no other record before. Some critics accused Davis of selling out, while the public bought it like crazy. It is one of the most examined albums of all time, even garnering a box set of the sessions. To date, "Bitches Brew" is one of the top selling jazz albums of all time. "Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue" examines the next step in the creative process...performing these songs live. The 1970 Isle of Wight featured an array of performers from The Who to Jethro Tull to Joni Mitchell. With improvisation playing a big role in the performance, the band (Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Gary Bartz and Dave Holland) had to be "on", yet ready to change on the fly. Directed by award-winning producer Murray Lerner, "Miles Electric" sits down with several of the performers who played with Miles, interspersed with his 1970 Isle of Wight performance, as well as artists such as Carlos Santana and Joni Mitchell, who describe the impact Miles Davis had towards music.
Legends in Concert
Runtime: 43 minJazz Legends - Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (1929-1943) by Duke Ellington, includes a series of short films made in Hollywood featuring Ellington performing his biggest hits: Black And Tan (1929) directed by Dudley Murphy; Check and Double Check (1930) directed by Melville Brown; Symphony in Black (1934) directed by Fred Waller; Paramount Pictoral No.889 (1937); The Hit Parade of 1937; and RKO Jamboree No.7 (1943) directed by Jay Bonafield. .
The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music
Runtime: 1 hr 41 minOn Saturday, May 3, 2014, esteemed musicians and friends joined together for “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music”, a special concert event taping honoring this musical icon in his hometown of New Orleans. Taking place at the historic Saenger Theatre in the French Quarter, the concert paid homage to Dr. John’s illustrious songbook and featured once-in-a-lifetime collaborations from a lineup of prestigious and award-winning artists. Produced by Blackbird Presents blackbirdpresents.com
Solos: The Jazz Sessions
Runtime: 48 minGuitarist John Abercrombie combines bop and free jazz stylistic elements with electronics utilizing phase shifters, guitar synthesizers and the good old volume pedal. What has kept his playing fresh is his refusal to be chained to these digital devices. As he told Down Beat writer Bill Milkowski, "I try to adjust my playing to the timbre and learn something about how to play that sound, yet at the same time I have to try and force the instrument to play with me a little bit. In other word, I sometimes try to overplay the instrument."
Runtime: 52 minThe Jazz Sessions spotlights Andrew Hill, a great and even groundbreaking composer and pianist. While many of his contemporaries were totally jettisoning the rhythmic and harmonic techniques of bop and hard bop, Hill worked to extend their possibilities; his was a revolution from within. He exhibited a determined command of his materials, however abstract they might sometimes be. His composed melodies were labyrinthine, rhythmically and harmonically complex tunes that exhibit a sophistication born of mastery, not chance or contingency.