Jimi meets Coltrane
M. C Whitmore | Jefferson, Md USA | 01/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is this the type of music Hendrix and Coltrane would have played if they were alive in the mid 70s?Its not music to relax to with its strong edge.The bass and drums exchange leads with the sax and guitar.No one instrument is leading but the band is tight.Ulmer is on fire riffing even using the wah- wah .Almost an hour of excitement.Even the slower tunes cook.Only for experienced listeners."
Inspired and Free
Dennis G. Voss Jr. | Lexington, KY USA | 08/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"James Blood Ulmer has never come close to achieving the fame of John McLaughlin as a jazz guitarist, which means that even his best recordings are harder to find. But I've never heard anyone who has been able to take the sort of frenzied guitar work that McLaughlin pioneered in the early 1970s and carry it into modern times, retaining the energy and inventiveness while liberating it from the Jimi Hendrix stylistic flourishes that everyone was copying. Whereas McLaughlin usually found interesting ways to swirl around the melody line on long solo runs, Ulmer is astounding in his ability to identify chords and notes that take the music in unexpected harmonic directions. It is this singular ability of his that makes every track on "In the Name of..." stand out and lets them survive repeated listening. It is also this joyous exploration of creative discordancy that makes the CD too abrasive for anyone looking for smooth jazz or even ultra-produced 70's-era fusion.
Ulmer's colleagues in the Music Revelation Ensemble (Cornell Rochester on drums and Amin Ali on electric bass) offer quality performances, and because the music is so democratic (harmolodically) they manage to make critical contributions outside the context of a conventional rhythm-section solo. Guest woodwind players, meanwhile, share the front line with Ulmer -- including Arthur Blythe on alto sax for three tunes and a gripping but spare bari sax performance by Hamiet Bluiett for another. The true giant of the session is multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers. I don't know what it is about Rivers ... Most free jazz recordings sound indulgent to me, but Rivers has some kind of magical ability to wander off on the most liberating jazz excursions while staying deliciously grounded in the underlying musical idea. To those who say free jazz is nothing but noise, Sam Rivers forces me to answer: "Maybe, but not all noise is created equal, and this guy produces some glorious noise." His pairing with Ulmer on three tracks -- once playing soprano sax, once playing flute, and once playing tenor -- will take you to free-jazz heaven if anything can.