Saturday, May 1, 2010

James Blood Ulmer - Free Lancing (1981)

Just putting this here because I wanted to rip it for my iPod and couldn't see it anywhere online after looking for two minutes.

It's inexplicable to me, not to mention utterly scandalous, that James Blood Ulmer's Columbia recordings are out of print. As far as I know, only Odyssey has ever had a CD release (and now that I look, I see that it's currently available to buy for download from the usual places), relegating this album and the equally good Black Rock to the obscurity of the cut-out bins.
I don't know what the story was with James Blood signing to Columbia. He'd been a sideman for Ornette Coleman, Big John Patton, Larry Young, Joe Henderson and others, had a couple of albums out on independent labels (the first of which featured Ornette as a sideman) and was a big name around the downtown jazz/improv scene. I have seen a fair few copies of this album over the years, so perhaps they were expecting a bigger "push" from the marketing division or it just baffled radio programmers and/or the punters so much that it didn't shift as many units as anticipated.
James Blood was (one presumes) dropped like a sack of spuds after three albums (the third of which seems to have some enduring popularity, hence its CD release and current availability online) and has subsequently put out dozens of albums on independent labels in Europe, Japan and the U.S.A. He seems to do pretty much as he pleases - moving between "out" improv (eg with Phalanx or the Music Revelation Ensemble), commercial funk and more recent albums of old-school blues (albeit with that distinctive Blood twist) with Vernon Reid.
The core band for this album is the power trio of James Blood on guitar, Amin Ali (son of the drummer Rashied) on bass and Grant Calvin Weston on drums. Both of these guys play with blood intermittently to this day.
Tracks 2, 4 and 8 feature Blood's distinctive mumbly vocals, with Ronnie Drayton on second guitar, Irene Datcher, Diane Wilson and Zenobia Konkerite (whoever they are) on backing vocals.
5, 6 and 9 feature David Murray on tenor, Oliver Lake on alto and Olu Dara on trumpet. How's that for a line-up? The cheesy harmonica on 'Rush Hour' is uncredited.
 I picked this up (I think at Red Eye for $8) in around 1988 or '89, after seeing Blood name-checked by Vernon Reid in some music magazine. I reckon I've got just about all of Blood's albums (including most of the Japanese ones) over the following couple of decades, and have seen him perform four or five times in three different continents. I still think this is my favourite of all his albums.

A1 Timeless (4:23)
A2 Pleasure Control (5:03)
A3 Night Lover (5:26)
A4 Where Did All The Girls Come From? (4:41)
A5 High Time (4:01)
B1 Hijack (4:04)
B2 Free Lancing (4:40)
B3 Stand Up To Yourself (3:46)
B4 Rush Hour (5:35)
B5 Happy Time (5:12)

Columbia Records 1981. Cat # ARC 37493

Buy it here


  1. muchas gracias por subir esto. me encanta este disco y hasta ahora no había podido encontrarlo para descargar... tienes razón, este debiera ser re-editado.

  2. Thanks for the kind words.
    Sorry about this, but I have pulled the links. These two items are for sale at Downtown Music Gallery, and I have no desire to pick the great James Blood's pocket. I will post some more rare Blood shortly.

  3. Seeing as the Movie Gold label that sells this is pirate,I doubt JBU sees a dime from it. You may as well put the link back.