Thursday, June 16, 2005

James Blood Ulmer at the Yale

Well -- not much trace of Ornette Coleman remains in this man's music, and I certainly had hoped to see him in a band setting, rather than playing solo up there on the stage (which he confessed was odd -- "I'm a band man," he said); but I still had a damned good time listing to James Blood Ulmer play the blues tonight at the Yale. The songs mostly all sounded the same (and in some cases, were the same -- at least three of the songs in the second set were songs from the first set) and one sensed that, with the exception of one bouncier standard, there was little difference between what Mr. Ulmer did tonight at the Yale and what he would have done had he been playing to a small crowd of friends in his living room -- but that's exactly why tonight was a success; had he gotten rid of the pauses between songs and just strung them together into one long voyage on the guitar I'd've been even happier. Who needs songs, anyways? The point was to hear him play, and play he did -- the best moments creating a dark twisting tunnel that drew you ever onwards and forwards, with spiralling sparks of colour swirling around you; there was just enough repetition, just enough structure to create the needed propulsion, and the rest was a pure celebration of the form, a dance of writhing ephemeral sprites garbed in hot neon, escaping from their earthy graves to seek freedom in starlight for awhile, twining around you as you spiralled out into the blackness yourself. I closed my eyes and let my spine make shapes (pint glass in my hand, ass planted firmly on the barstool, but still); for more than a few moments I lost myself, transported, following wherever the man's fingers led me, and that's as much of a testament to him as I figure I'm going to manage tonight -- what more could one ask of music, anyhow? It's almost enough to make me think of someday going back to the Yale -- but, nah, I doubt I will.

Check it out: that cool guy with the beard from the Magic Flute in Kits was there, too! For weeks on end last year he'd be at damn near every concert I went to, from Mission of Burma to Diamanda Galas... I think his name begins with T... Hi, cool guy!

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