Music Revelation Ensemble

Knights of Power

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AllMusic Review by

James Blood Ulmer's sporadic and ever-evolving Music Revelation Ensemble has featured at one time or another everyone from David Murray and Roland Shannon Jackson to John Zorn and the late George Adams. The results have been spotty as well, but when Blood is on in this band, his true jamming unit, there's none better. This disc is one example of that power with a rhythm section consisting of Amin Ali on bass and Cornell W. Rochester on drums, and two guests saxophonists who go by the names Arthur Blythe (whose landmark Lennox Avenue Breakdown facilitated Ulmer getting a Columbia Records contract in the 1970s) and Hamiet Bluiett, splitting the eight tunes between them. Funk is the root key of everything here, slipped grooves and underhanded bass riffs kick the tunes off before a melody line gets stated played jointly usually by Ulmer and either Blythe or Bluiett, and then it's off to the stratosphere while never losing the groove. Ulmer's guitar work on this disc is truly astonishing as he plays lead and rhythm at the same time, chasing the train and keeping the groove. Standouts on the set are "The Day Of" and "Confusion," as well as "Father of Flame." On each of these selections, Ulmer and his rhythm section create wide spaces for the horn players to move around in. Once the saxists are established in their improvisations, Ulmer will stab through the mix with another idea of dimensional scale and either Blythe or Bluiett will be given the responsibility of opening that up. Blood eventually comes in for his solo and understates it while introducing yet another length of the harmolodic lyrical chain. In each case, it's amazing that the band finds its way back to the root, the groove never having been absent. Along with No Wave, this is the best of the Music Revelation Ensemble's recordings; it kicks ass.

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