James Blood Ulmer is among the most distinctive and influential electric guitarists to emerge in the past four decades. Over time, Blood’s reputation has morphed from that of an avant–garde jazz visionary out of the Ornette Coleman school to elder statesman of the African–American musical vernacular encom – passing jazz, blues, funk, and whatever lies beyond.
Forging an unyielding synthesis of musical styles, vision and virtuosity, Ulmer has left an indelible mark on those keen ears who’ve dared to follow him to that intangible place where the fiercest, most holy music occurs.
Whether it’s art imitating life or life imitating art, the trials of James Blood Ulmer’s career have only made his art that much more potent. It appears he’s capable of channeling life’s experiences through his soul in order to lay it bare in the music. If he were never to record again, his reputation as an American music pioneer is already cemented in stone. One would think, however, that there’s a great deal more to come, because Blood lives the music, is the music and he’ll grow old bringing the music. And as always, that devout audience with big ears and keen instincts will be taking it all in.