Friday, September 11, 2015

James "Blood" Ulmer and the Thing to Austin Come

I no longer make pilgrimages to see bands, but if'n I did, I'd head down to Austin on October 7th -- a Wednesday -- to see harmolodic funk/blues guitar master James Blood Ulmer, accompanied by Scandinavian free jazz power trio the Thing, at the North Door. (Tickets be here.)

Born in South Carolina, 1940, Ulmer cut his teeth playing in organ trios before assisting at the birth of Ornette Coleman's electric ensemble Prime Time (with whom he never recorded, but you can see some vid on Youtube, of course). He went on to record as a leader for Artist House (with Ornette as a sideman!), Rough Trade, and Columbia (for whom he also did yeoman work on Arthur Blythe's Lenox Avenue Breakdown and Illusions -- my first exposure), attaining his apotheosis with Odyssey, a trio with violinist Charles Burnham that came across like a Mississippi Delta string band ca. 1930 following alien abduction. He also co-led the Music Revelation Ensemble with David Murray before reinventing himself as a bluesman in the Millennial decade with a series of albums produced by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid.

Ulmer encountered the Thing -- the rubric under which saxman Mats Gustafsson, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, and bassist/Austin resident Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten push their collective sounds into the sky -- when they performed together in Norway this past summer, and Epistrophy Arts impresario Pedro Moreno assures me that they'll be jamming jazz, not blues. Here's a taste:

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity no lover of creative music should miss.


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