Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

James “Blood” Ulmer and Vernon Reid: Harmolodic Blues

James "Blood" Ulmer and Vernon Reid
James "Blood" Ulmer and Vernon Reid

When Ornette Coleman tries to explain his harmolodic theory, he sounds as if he’s talking about the most modern concept around. But the more he talks about a performer treating the HARmony, the rhythmic MOtion and the meLODIC lines equally and taking them wherever inspiration leads at any moment, the more it sounds like he’s describing those pre-1950 rural bluesmen who did just that.

The key instrument for old bluesmen such as Charley Patton, Robert Pete Williams and Mississippi Fred McDowell was the guitar, of course, and it became a crucial factor in Coleman’s harmolodic music as well. Two of the most important guitarists in the harmolodic movement are James “Blood” Ulmer and Vernon Reid, and recently they collaborated on three albums that make the blues underpinnings of harmolodic music more explicit than ever.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published

Geoffrey Himes

Geoffrey Himes has written about jazz and other genres of music on a regular basis for the Washington Post since 1977 and has also written for JazzTimes, Paste, Rolling Stone, New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, National Public Radio, and others. His book on Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A., was published by Continuum Books in 2005 and he’s currently working on a major book for the Country Music Hall of Fame. He has been honored for Music Feature Writing by the Deems Taylor/ASCAP Awards (2003, 2005, 2014 and 2015), the New Orleans Press Awards, the Abell Foundation Awards and the Music Journalism Awards.