Genres You Will Love
Urban/R&B: Funk Moods: Type: Instrumental Jazz: Jazz-Funk

By Location
United States - Virginia

Composer Website Sell your music everywhere

Ed Bland

Raw, funky, unpredictable, confrontational – all describe the music of Ed Bland (1926-2013), one of the most original and versatile composers of the 20th-21st centuries. Ranging from jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul to contemporary classical, his work builds on European, West African drumming and African-American influences to create pieces that celebrate what Bland called the eternal Now. “As a composer, my job is to create work that holds the listener’s attention so tightly that he or she cannot stray from the piece. Thus the listener is glued to the work from beginning to end. When this occurs, a continuum of past, present and future has been achieved. This continuum, which is experienced as a prolongation of the present, is what I call the eternal Now.”

Many of the tracks in Urban Funk have never been released before and are among the last pieces he composed before his death.

Bland began as a jazz protégé clarinetist in Chicago. After hearing a recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring during a break in a jam session with Art Tatum, he turned from performing to composing, arranging and producing records for a number of companies, including Vanguard, where he was executive producer during the 1970s. While at Vanguard, he established a jazz line for the label with Clark Terry, James Moody, Elvin Jones, Bunky Green, and Roland Prince. He also composed, arranged and produced for Columbia Records, Lionel Hampton’s Glad Hamp Records, and GWP Records.

Bland’s work was always ahead of his time. In 2000, when he was 80 years old, his composition, “Skunk Juice,” recorded with the Pazant Brothers in the 1970s, was sampled by Beyonce on her single, “Creole.” Around the same time, Fat Boy Slim and Cypress Hill sampled his composition “A Gritty Nitty” on CDs that went platinum. Atari Video Games leased the same piece for its game “Test Drive Unlimited.”

In addition to his work in the recording industry, Bland composed and arranged for movies and television, including A Raisin in the Sun and A Soldier’s Story, among others.

In 1959, Bland produced what has been called the first Hip Hop film, “The Cry of Jazz,” which expressed his sense that the Black American experience was a formal as well as a cultural phenomenon. Kenneth Tynan, critic for the London Observer, called the “Cry” a landmark film, as it was the first film made by Black Americans that challenged the humanity of white Americans. Willard Van Dyke, pre-eminent American film documentarian and head of the Film Division of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, described “The Cry of Jazz” as “the most prophetic film in film history, as it predicted the riots in the 1960s and 70s and gave the basis for them.”

Bland’s works have been performed all over the world and his recordings continue to be available through Ace Records in London, The CD
Urban Classical: The Music of Ed Bland is on the Cambria Music iabel. The CDs Healing the Pain and Dancing Through the Walls are on the Delos label. This album, Urban Funk, is available only through CD Baby.