The jazz-funk supergroup Third Rail has absolutely phenomenal bloodlines and impeccable credentials. The lineup is a who's who of the downtown New York art scene: guitarist James Blood Ulmer of the Music Revelation Ensemble, Ornette Coleman's group, and numerous solo albums; drummer Joseph "Ziggy" Modeliste, formerly of the mighty Meters, New Orleans' definitive band; vocalist, keyboardist, and composer Amina Claudine Myers of the avant-jazz collective Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians; the extraordinary keyboardist Bernie Worrell, of Talking Heads and Parliament/Funkadelic legend; and, of course, Bill Laswell, the bassist/producer who is required by law to appear on every third album recorded in New York City since 1981.
Ulmer formed Third Rail with Laswell and Modeliste in 1993 as an avant-jazz version of the Cream-style power trio. Worrell and Myers joined shortly thereafter and the group became regulars at the Knitting Factory and other New York clubs. The group even toured as part of the P-Funk Revue for a couple of years. Third Rail released its first album, South Delta Space Age, in 1995. A 1997 follow-up, with Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey replacing Modeliste on drums, was originally announced as As It Is by Third Rail, but the album was eventually released as James Blood Ulmer's Blue Blood, with the same personnel and compositions. ~ Stewart Mason