James Blood Ulmer
Though his career has been inconsistent, Ulmer's had enough "on" moments to rank as one of the most exciting jazz guitarists of the past twenty years. He's instantly recognizable for his jagged, knotty phrasing and unique harmonic sense. Comfortable working in a wide variety of genres, from Funk and rock to Bop and Soul Jazz, Ulmer is best known as an exponent of the so-called "Free Funk" genre spawned by saxophonist and mentor Ornette Coleman's mid-1970s electric band Prime Time. Tales of Captain Black (1978) and Are You Glad to Be in America? (1980) are prime examples of this style, blending aggressive rock/Funk dynamics with frantic, constantly morphing group interplay. Their success, however, painted Ulmer into an avant-garde corner he didn't want to be in; his inclusion of more "straight" blues and R&B-oriented songs (featuring his own gravelly vocals) on subsequent records alienated many listeners who found the results unfocused. By the late '90s, he shifted to a more compartmentalized approach to releasing records, and in doing so has regained some of the momentum he lost in the mid-1980s.
James Blood Ulmer Concert Films
Solos: The Jazz Sessions
James Blood Ulmer
Runtime: 50 minJames Blood Ulmer is one of the few guitarists to have forged a style based largely on the traditions of African-American vernacular music. Ulmer is an adherent of saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman's vaguely defined Harmelodic theory and plays with a stuttering, vocalic attack; his jagged lines speak with the authority of a free jazz improviser and the accent of a soul-jazz tenor saxophonist. His solo guitar work is an expressive, hard-edged, loudly amplified hybrid. But Ulmer isn't limited in his musical scope. In these sessions, he reveals himself to be an instant inventor of repute on the flute and a memorable songwriter and blues singer.
James Blood Ulmer Top Tracks
A Joyful Noise
Runtime: 59 minRobert Mugge filmed jazz great Sun Ra on location in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. between 1978 and 1980. The resulting 60-minute film includes multiple public and private performances, poetry readings, a band rehearsal, interviews, and extensive improvisations. Transferred to HD from the original 16mm film and lovingly restored for the best possible viewing experience.
Live at Soundstage
Runtime: 54 minRecorded in High-Definition for the PBS concert series Soundstage, this unforgettable performance features staggering renditions of "Thrill is Gone" and "Let the Good Times Roll" as well as special guest appearances by Terrence Howard, Solange and guitarist Richie Sambora - each of who takes turns sitting in with the blues legend.
The Miles Davis Story
Runtime: 2 hr 4 minTrumpeter-bandleader Miles Davis (1926-91) was a catalyst for the major innovations in post-bop, cool jazz, hard-bop, and jazz-fusion, and his wispy and emotional trumpet tones were some of the most evocative sounds ever heard. He was also one of the most identifiable and misunderstood pop icons of the 20th century. This engrossing British documentary shows the complex layers of this magnificent and mercurial artist. Through rare footage and interviews, we learn of Davis's middle-class upbringing and his early days with bop legends Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. The documentary bluntly deals with Davis's narcotic nadir and his rise from the depths to become a bona fide jazz icon in the mid-'50s to late '60s. But the most penetrating and poignant portraits of Davis come from musicians who played with and were influenced by him, including Shirley Horn, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, and Keith Jarrett.
Down and Dirty
Runtime: 1 hr 27 min“I always like stories about people that drink and have drug problems and women problems,” said Johnny in the film. “It’s just interesting.” Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty, the definitive, feature-length documentary by acclaimed Lemmy co-director and producer, Greg Olliver, will be available worldwide on March 4, 2016, on DVD and iTunes. The package will feature never-before-seen photos and bonus footage, including extended interviews and his final studio performance, a solo resonator version of the Son House classic, “Death Letter.” Produced independently through Secret Weapon Films in NYC, director Greg Olliver was welcomed into the Johnny Winter family during the final two years of Johnny’s life, capturing the making of his Grammy-winning Step Back (Best Blues Album, 2015), and traveling the world from Beaumont to Hong Kong. Winter continued to perform over 200 sold out shows a year until his death on tour in Switzerland in 2014. The film also features Clive Davis, Edgar Winter, James Cotton, Billy Gibbons, Warren Haynes, Luther Nallie, Joe Perry, Tommy Shannon, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and more.
The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music
Runtime: 1 hr 41 minOn Saturday, May 3, 2014, esteemed musicians and friends joined together for “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music”, a special concert event taping honoring this musical icon in his hometown of New Orleans. Taking place at the historic Saenger Theatre in the French Quarter, the concert paid homage to Dr. John’s illustrious songbook and featured once-in-a-lifetime collaborations from a lineup of prestigious and award-winning artists. Produced by Blackbird Presents blackbirdpresents.com
Live At Montreux 1986/1993
Al di Meola
Runtime: 46 minAl Di Meola was one of the dominant figures in jazz rock fusion in the seventies and eighties, first with Return To Forever, which also featured Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke, and later as a solo artist. His albums have dominated the US jazz charts and he has frequently earned top honors in Guitar Player magazine’s polls. From the late 1980s onwards he has moved away from jazz fusion to concentrate primarily on acoustic guitar, with an increasing Latin influence. This concert by him at Montreux Jazz Festival 1986 is a solo performance. For 45 minutes long Al Di Meola manages to keep the attention of the audience, not only with a good sense of humor but certainly also with a great variety of style and dynamics. Especially for guitarists this concert is a pleasure to watch, since it contains many close-up shots of Al Di Meola showing his amazing technique.
New Morning: The Paris Concert
Runtime: 1 hr 56 minJohn is considered one of the most important and influential jazz guitarists and composers since he arrived on the scene in the mid '70s. A masterful improviser at the peak of his creative art, Scofield revisits compositions & interpretations richly combining post-bop, funk-edged jazz, and R&B influences. This brilliant performance by John Scofield (backed by master drummer Bill Stewart, bassist Ben Street and pianist Michael Eckroth) is a true gem.
Legends in Concert
Runtime: 43 minJazz Legends - Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (1929-1943) by Duke Ellington, includes a series of short films made in Hollywood featuring Ellington performing his biggest hits: Black And Tan (1929) directed by Dudley Murphy; Check and Double Check (1930) directed by Melville Brown; Symphony in Black (1934) directed by Fred Waller; Paramount Pictoral No.889 (1937); The Hit Parade of 1937; and RKO Jamboree No.7 (1943) directed by Jay Bonafield. .
Runtime: 52 minThe Jazz Sessions spotlights Andrew Hill, a great and even groundbreaking composer and pianist. While many of his contemporaries were totally jettisoning the rhythmic and harmonic techniques of bop and hard bop, Hill worked to extend their possibilities; his was a revolution from within. He exhibited a determined command of his materials, however abstract they might sometimes be. His composed melodies were labyrinthine, rhythmically and harmonically complex tunes that exhibit a sophistication born of mastery, not chance or contingency.
All The Notes
Runtime: 1 hr 12 minCecil Taylor is the grand master of free jazz piano. All the Notes captures in breezy fashion the unconventional stance of this media-shy modern musical genius, regarded one of the true giants of post-war music. Taylor is first seen musing over Santiago Calatrava's architecture; the pianist's famed eclectic interests extend from soloing, combo and small orchestra work to spoken word performance.
Solos: The Jazz Sessions
Runtime: 48 minGuitarist John Abercrombie combines bop and free jazz stylistic elements with electronics utilizing phase shifters, guitar synthesizers and the good old volume pedal. What has kept his playing fresh is his refusal to be chained to these digital devices. As he told Down Beat writer Bill Milkowski, "I try to adjust my playing to the timbre and learn something about how to play that sound, yet at the same time I have to try and force the instrument to play with me a little bit. In other word, I sometimes try to overplay the instrument."
Solos: The Jazz Sessions
Runtime: 1 hr 2 minAn up-close portrayal of Frisell, filmed by Daniel Berman at the Berkeley Church in Toronto. This rare solo session features an intimate look into his electric guitar and looping wizardry, and includes an exclusive interview with Frisell. On the taping of Solos Frisell comments, "It's a weird thing playing solo. I live for the interaction with other musicians."