Rashied Ali: Theme For Captain Black


Theme For Captain Black


Rashied Ali (drums)


Live In Europe (Survival Records SR-126)

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Rashied Ali (drums), Josh Evans (trumpet), Lawrence Clark (tenor sax), Greg Murphy (piano), Joris Teepe (bass).

Composed by James Blood Ulmer


Recorded: May 2007, Tampere Finland


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

The first James Blood Ulmer record I bought came from a little record/book store in a generic strip mall (Wait, isn't that redundant?) Anyway, I had no idea what to expect. The man on the cover was playing a hollow body guitar and looked thoroughly engrossed in his task. Hey, it was in the jazz section, must be jazz, right?

Very quickly my conception of jazz began to change. That record dipped jazz in a funk steambath, the same technique used by Miles...but I didn't know that yet. Heck, I bet I hadn't even heard Kind Of Blue yet....or Coltrane! Yet despite my lack of jazz knowledge, it was obvious that this Ulmer guy had something going on. His sound was a roiling mass of barely contained energy. The funk and jazz worked with and against each other to torque up the sonic karma.

Rashied Ali knows all about torqued up music. His post-Elvin work with Coltrane is legendary. On this track it's gratifying to see Ali come full circle, revisiting material from his old Phalanx cohort, Mr. Ulmer. With horns taking the lead melodic roles (instead of the guitar), this version has more bop sensibilities than the original. My ears say the highlights are Ali's incredible, far-reaching drum solo and Lawrence Clark's busting-at-the-seams tenor solo that follows. Ali avoids (as usual) the pulse and comps his ass off underneath Clark. Beneath the squall, there's a lot of beauty — for my ears, one of the defining characteristics of free-ish jazz.

Reviewer: Mark Saleski

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