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James Blood Ulmer removes his name from the cover of this reunion of his Odyssey trio, and for good reason. As the rather awkward group name indicates, this is more of a band album than a solo project, especially with Ulmer's longtime associate Charles Burnham's searing violin playing such a prominent role in the sound. Only the third appearance of this ensemble on album, and the threesome's sole release since 1998's Reunion concert disc, the collective's synergy remains amazingly sharp. Burnham's violin, Warren Benbow's propulsive, in-the-pocket yet often skeletal drums, and Ulmer's throaty vocals and harmolodic guitar lines tug and tumble with each other. Musically this falls on the bluesy side of jazz, not surprising in that Ulmer has spent the majority of his time since 1998 filtering the blues through his own distinctive vision. The album's instrumentals such as the winding "Water Tree" and the ominous "Love Nest" comprise about half of the playing time, and give Ulmer's non-vocal contributions equal footing with the other players. The MIA bass parts aren't missed due in part to Ulmer's innovative playing and the band's sheer intensity. Recorded live in the studio during a three-day stint in May 2005, the disc crackles because of the largely improv approach of the pieces. Each track supports its own groove, and the interaction of all three players with nobody hogging the spotlight shows the collaborative nature of this project. A slight world beat infuses these tracks, due in part to Ulmer and Burnham's distinctive, atypical approach to their instruments. The brooding atmosphere is heightened by Ulmer's husky, quivering vocals, especially effective on the cautionary "Let's Get Married" (definitely not the Al Green song). Listeners who appreciate the guitarist/vocalist's forays into the blues will find this to be down a similar dark alley, and those who come to this album through Ulmer's more dissonant jazz work will also find lots to enjoy in Back in Time's timeless and riveting music.
Top Albums and Songs by Charles Burnham
||Water Tree||Back In Time||5:29||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Free for Three||Back In Time||4:28||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Let's Get Married||Back In Time||5:11||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Channel One||Back In Time||7:08||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Woman Coming||Back In Time||5:45||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Love Nest||Back In Time||5:18||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Little Red House||Back In Time||5:16||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Happy Time||Back In Time||5:52||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Open Doors||Back In Time||6:11||$1.69||View In iTunes|
||Last One||Back In Time||4:40||$1.69||View In iTunes|