Elec. Jazz

Music Revelation Ensemble

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Elec. Jazz Review

by Brian Olewnick

Essentially James "Blood" Ulmer's band, the Music Revelation Ensemble both harks back to his early recorded history with saxophonist David Murray and seeks to update the guitarist's unique fusion of funk, out jazz, and hardcore blues. Ulmer's compositions (all of the pieces are his) are under the strong influence of his former teacher and employer Ornette Coleman; indeed, "Big Top" almost sounds lifted from the latter's songbook, which is strong praise. He also shows a surprising deftness of touch in the penning of a piece like "No More," a beautiful, haunting blues ballad that recalls Hendrix at his best. The music actually is more successful the closer it steers to jazz forms in this case. Murray often sounds fettered in funk settings and seems to require more expansive structures to fly freely and, sticking to tenor for this date, he does so to good effect on tracks like "Inter City." Bassist Amin Ali balances split-second funk popping with thoughtful, delicate playing, providing just the right accents and levels of spice. If anything, one might only carp about Cornell Rochester's drumming which, in several instances, is more leaden than one might wish. Ulmer, of course, is sui generis, and his playing here, in all its raggedness, grit, and clarity, is arguably some of the best he ever put to disc. Forget the insipid album title. Elec. Jazz contains some fine, tough music and is well-worth seeking out.

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