James Blood Ulmer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
James "Blood" Ulmer, Moers Festival 2012

James "Blood" Ulmer (born February 2, 1942 in St. Matthews, South Carolina ) is an American jazz and blues guitarist . He stood since the late 1970s as well as Ornette Coleman and Ronald Shannon Jackson at the center of the free jazz with the Jazz Rock newly merging Free Funk .


Ulmer played the guitar at the age of four; his father showed him the first handles. Until his voice broke, he was active in the gospel quartet The Southern Sons . In 1959 he went to Pittsburg as a professional musician, where he initially worked in R&B bands such as The Savoys and The Swing Kings , with whom he also made guest appearances in Canada and the Virgin Islands. Between 1964 and 1966 he played in organ- dominated soul jazz bands and recorded with Hank Marr's organ trio . Between 1967 and 1971 he lived in Detroit , where he also composed and rehearsed with a group consisting of drums, bass, trombone and alto saxophone. Occasionally he performed with Dionne Warwick , Chuck Jackson , George Adams or John Patton . In 1971 he moved to New York City , where he performed every night at Minton's Playhouse for nine months . In 1973 he was briefly with Art Blakey and played with Paul Bley , Larry Young and Joe Henderson . He took lessons from Ornette Coleman and performed with him at the 1974 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival . He played on records with Coleman in 1976 and appeared in other appearances of Coleman's Prime Time in Europe (1978). He was also involved in two albums with Arthur Blythe .

From 1980, Ulmer led his own trio (mostly Calvin Weston and Amin Ali ), with whom he played compositions that were based on Coleman's harmonious concept and that led to a kind of abstract jazz radio . In the further course of the 1980s he also worked with George Adams and with the Music Revelation Ensemble (including Pharoah Sanders , David Murray and John Zorn ). In the 1990s he played on the one hand in the Odyssey Band with violinist Charles Burnham and drummer Warren Benbow , but also applied the knowledge gained with the harmonic concept in ensembles more clearly related to the blues, including Vernon Reid , Amina Claudine Myers and Bill Laswell , as documented on his album Blue Blood (2001). He also worked with James Carter , Jayne Cortez and the World Saxophone Quartet .


Ulmer has an independent way of playing with a brittle sound and strong recognition value . It builds on the electric blues with its distortion effects and warped tones and occasionally pushes the boundaries of tonality. The guitarist uses a special tuning and special strings for his cutting sounds, which are played exclusively with the thumb, and treats his instrument in an emphatically percussive manner.

James "Blood" Ulmer, 2013

Discography (selection)

  • Revealing (In + Out, 1977)
  • Tales of Captain Black (Artists House, 1978)
  • Are You Glad to Be in America? (Rough Trade, 1980)
  • Freelancing (Columbia, 1981)
  • Black Rock (Columbia, 1982)
  • Live at the Caravan of Dreams (Caravan of Dreams, 1986)
  • America - Do You Remember the Love? (Blue Note, 1987)
  • Wings (1988)
  • Blues Allnight (In + Out, 1989)
  • Black and Blues (DIW, 1990) Drayton, Ali, Weston
  • Harmolodic Guitar with Strings (DIW, 1993)
  • Live at the Bayerischer Hof ( In + Out , 1994)
  • Blues Preacher (Sony, 1994)
  • Forbidden Blues (DIW, 1996)
  • Blue Blood (Innerhythmic, 2001)
  • Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions (M, 2001)
  • No Escape from the Blues (M, 2003)
  • Birthright (Hyena, 2005)
  • Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions (Hyena, 2007)
  • In and Out (In + Out, 2009)
  • James Blood Ulmer & The Thing: Baby Talk (Trost, 2017)

With Odyssey

  • Odyssey (Columbia, 3-5 / 83) Charles Burnham, Warren Benbow
  • Part Time (Rough Trade, 1983)
  • Reunion (Knitting Factory, 1997) Burnham, Benbow
  • Back in Time (Pi, 2005) Odyssey the Band: Burnham, Benbow

With Music Revelation Ensemble

  • No Wave (Moers, 1980)
  • Music Revelation Ensemble (DIW, 1988)
  • Electric Jazz (DIW, 1990)
  • After Dark (DIW, 1991)
  • In the Name of ... (DIW, 1993)
  • Knights of Power (DIW, 1996)
  • Cross Fire (DIW, 1997)

With phalanx

  • Phalanx (Moers, 1985)
  • Original Phalanx (DIW, 1987)
  • In Touch (DIW, 1988)

With third rail

  • South Delta Space Age (Antilles, 1995)


Radio plays

  • 2004: Andreas Ammer / FM Einheit : Lost & Found: Das Paradies (also speaker) - Director: Andreas Ammer / FM Einheit (pop radio play - BR )

Lexigraphic entries

Individual evidence

  1. Ulmer himself gives his year of birth as 1940. He celebrated his 70th birthday in Vienna on February 2, 2010, cf. James Blood Ulmer 70th Birthday Concert

Web links

Commons : James Blood Ulmer  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files