The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 23, 1990 - Page 9
Jazzer Ulmer inherits Coleman legacy
by Peter Shapiro
W HEN Ornette Coleman burst
unto the jazz scene in the late '50s,
his unique vision of the blues
changed music forever. Coleman
viewed the blues through a broken,
jagged shard of prismatic glass that
tore apart the 12-bar structure and
created chaotic fragments of blue
notes and microtones. This dramatic
restructuring shifted the blues from a
subtle personal transcendence of
white oppression to a loud, radical,
yet very spiritual liberation. As a re-
sult, Coleman has had innumerable
:heirs. From Archie Shepp to Henry
Threadgill, Coleman's free jazz has
spawned two generations of torch-
bearers who have formed the van-
guard of jazz exploration and pushed
collective improvisation to its logi-
One of Coleman's most impor-
*tant yet overlooked disciples is gui-
tarist James "Blood" Ulmer. In the
early '70s, Ulmer studied harmolodic
theory under Coleman, a meeting
that has made an indelible stamp on
his music. This theory states that all
of the instruments in a band have
equal importance and should be
treated accordingly in composition.
Harmolodics met head-on with Ul-
mer's training as an R&B guitarist
to create an insane mixture of
African- American musical styles.
4 Ulmer's music is at once primal,
earthy, gut-level funk and heady,
avant-garde, modal improvisation. In
'most of his songs, Ulmer's bassist
and drummer work out on a strong
throbbing groove, while he flails at
his guitar with his thumb and fore-
finger producing intense riffs with a
nasty distortion reminiscent of Jimi
Hendrix or Vernon Reid. Occasion-
ally, this can result in long, extended
journeys, as on his 1983 album
Odyssey. But he is at his most ef-
fective when his compositions are
fiery whirlwinds of rage, like his
masterpiece "Are You Glad to Be in
America?" which has all the imagis-
tic force of the Apocalypse.
If his performances at New
York's Knitting Factory in Decem-
ber were any indication, his shows at
the Ark should have the subtlety of
Armageddon. Working with drum-
mer Rashied Ali, bassist Jamaaldeen
Tacuma and saxophonist George
Adams, these shows were torrents of
inspired playing and emotional force.
This time around, he will be playing
with bassist Amin Ali and drummer
Calvin Weston, two members of the
band that made Are You Glad to Be
in America and Black Rock two of
the most unforgettable jazz albums
made in recent years. Combining the
cleansing aspect of funk with a real
sense of the irony of the American
condition, Ulmer's music is a true
cure for the blues.
JAMES "BLOOD" ULMER is per-
forming tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. at
the Ark, 637 1/2 S. Main. Tickets
are $12.50, available at the Union.
Ulmer will give a free pre-concert
workshop in the Pond Room of the
Union at 3 p.m. today.
Continued from page 8
RSW "dance music" does not lump
them in the same category as the Pet
Shop Boys or Kylie Minogue. This
a grittier and more real sound that
doesn't work the drum machine to
death. RSW ultimately leaves those
factory phonies in the dirt.
Practically nothing can be learned
about the band from the liner notes
- whether or not this was done by
design, well, you tell me. However,
unlike the band itself, the music of
RSW has a identity all its own. And
lately that hasn't been easy to do in
dance music, at least not on Thurs-
The good word hits Ann Arbor
this weekend as the Black Media
Coaliton and Access Productions
present The People Could Fly. A
host of local theater celebrities are
involved with production: Elise Bry-
ant of Common Ground Theater
Ensemble and Rod Gailes conceived
of the show, Gailes also directs it;
University dance faculty member
Linda Spriggs choreographed the
production; Stephen Newby of the
School of Music composed original
music with Morris Lawrence. This
"musical celebration of the African
American Spirit" will be presented
in the Mendelssohn Theatre in the
Michigan League tonight and tomor-
row at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $10, $5 with student id.
and are available at Ticketmaster.
Continued from page 8
ISAAC STERN AND THE BALTI-
MORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at Hill
Auditorium. Tickets, ranging from
$11 to $31, are available from the
University Musical Society. Stu-
dent rush tickets are available.
Continued from page 8
make that Ibanez talk tonight. If
anybody can, it's Joe Satriani, and I
for one wouldn't want to miss it.
JOE SATRIANI performs at lill at 8
p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $18.50,
available at Ticketmaster. STEVIE
THEATERS 1 & 2 . 5TH AVE. AT LIBERTY 761-9700
A NN R O R $2.75 SHOWS BEFORE 6 PM & ALL DAY TUESDAY'
( SOME EXCEPTIONS MAY APPLY)
Bring in this ad. for one FREE 12 oz. drink " ex ires 4/5/90
James "Blood" Ulmer is one of two guitar geniuses playing in town this
weekend, the other being lickmeister Joe atriani.
SAY IT IN THE ...
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DR. CHARLES HENRY
"From the Beloved Community to
Common Ground: a Comparison
of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
and Jesse Jackson"
Tuesday, March 27, 4:00 P.M
Hussey Room, Michigan League
Reception Immediately Following the Lecture
This series is sponsored by the Center for Afroamerican and African
Studies, the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and the
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
POWER CENTER -- MAR. 22-4 -- 8:00P.M. -- $5.00 STUDENT
The University of Michigan Black Media Coalition
and Access Productions
re ePeoPte Coud
a musical cefebration of the African American Spirit
Originally conceived by Elise Bryant and Rod Gailes
THE BEST WF
- SJUJLJIYAN f
with stars from the
Assisted by members of
SponsoredbyUnistrutCorp. the U of N Gilbert &
& sAppliedDynamics Sulivan Society!
Thursday, March 29.8 p.m.
t,,hev efrOlOflca aner
0,'r +L//fe 2
The unforgettable story of
artist Charlotte Salomon
has createda fascinating
dance/drama about a
child; a family broken and
reformed; a period of
history; and a woman's
process in artistry.
Sponsored in part by Slavik Foundation
March 22-25, 1990
Thurs-Sat 8:00 pm, Sun 3:00 pm Adapted and Directed by
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre Choreography by Linda Spriggs
LydiaOriginai Music by Dr. Morris
located in the Michigan League bldg. Lawrence and Stephen Newby
Tickets $10.00, Students $5.00 w/ ID, available at all TicketMaster outlets, to charge tickets call
763-TKTS. For information on group rates contact Rod Gailes at 764-2745.
Friday, March 30 - 8 p.m.
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