Personalities | James ‘Blood’ Ulmer | Eighties | Jazz & Blues

(Guitar, b. 1941)

Drawing on systems that are both ancient (the blues) and modern (free jazz), this experimental guitarist forged an original vocabulary on his instrument that has rarely been imitated and remains one of the most strikingly individual approaches in jazz. Ulmer began his career working in organ bands around the Midwest in the 1960s, before moving to New York in 1973. Hooking up with Ornette Coleman that same year introduced him to the harmolodic theory of musical composition and improvisation, altering his approach for all time.

Through the 1980s Ulmer led three record dates for Columbia, which helped to expose his music to a wider audience. He also worked with tenor saxophonist David Murray and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson in the Music Revelation Ensemble, and then in 1987 formed the edgy co-operative group Phalanx with tenor saxophonist George Adams, bassist Sirone and drummer Rashied Ali.

Styles & Forms | Eighties | Jazz & Blues
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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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