James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1980)

 |   |  <1 min read

James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1980)

For many of the open-eared among jazz listeners -- those who had grown up on rock guitarists and heard in Hendrix the vanguard of a fusion, followed Miles Davis through Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson, had albums by John McLaughlin and understood jazz-funk -- it seemed as if guitarist-singer James Blood Ulmer was going to deliver them from mediocrity.

His pedigree was impeccable: anointed by Ornette Coleman with whom he played, a fellow traveller with drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson and saxophonists Oliver Lake and David Murray, a song called Jazz is the Teacher But Funk is the Preacher . . .

Blood Ulmer's staccato style chipping off saxophones but keeping the riffery and melodies to a minimum was as distinctive in its own way as Hendrix had been -- and indeed many saw him as extending the lineage of Jimi into hard-edged jazz.

But despite some exciting albums and a contract with CBS (although his best work was done on John Snyder's Artists House label, where this album title-track comes from) Blood Ulmer never quite made it across into mainstream, or at least widespread acceptance.

The times they were a-changin' and in the Eighties battle lines were being drawn in jazz. 

Hard to believe now, but the album this is taken from arrived just as his later CBS labelmate Wynton Marsalis did.

Guess who won the battle. 

For more one-offs, oddities and songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults.

.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

John Lennon, Child of Nature (1968)

John Lennon, Child of Nature (1968)

Give them credit, the Beatles were always incredibly productive and even on their holidays -- like the six weeks that Lennon and Harrison spent in Rishikesh with the Maharishi -- they were... > Read more

Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan: Jimmy Berman (1971)

Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan: Jimmy Berman (1971)

Given they had so much in common -- a love of words, counterculture cachet, Jewish upbringing and so on -- it is a surprise poet Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan didn't write and record together more... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

YASMIN BROWN'S BEST EPs of 2018

YASMIN BROWN'S BEST EPs of 2018

2018 has seen an unprecedented number of outstanding releases across all genres. The music industry is continuing to morph into something that would have been unrecognisable even five years ago,... > Read more

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Jama ko (Out Here/Southbound)

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Jama ko (Out Here/Southbound)

It has been five years since this superb ngoni player (a lute/banjo-like instrument) from Mali delivered his beautiful Segu Blue album. Formerly a member of the late Ali Farka Toure's inner circle,... > Read more