Records from this legendary 70s Detroit label have long been staples at the vault, with albums 'A Message From The Tribe' and 'The Time Is Now!' being firm store favourites. Combining everything we love about the more spiritual and meaningful side of Soul-Jazz, Tribe began as a musical ensemble in 1971 co-founded by saxophonist Wendell Harrison and trombonist Phil Ranelin that soon expanded into a broad amalgam including a live collective and independent record label. Quality reissues have been generally hard to come by till recent years, thanks to labels like Now-Again and P-Vine Records. These days, we get to enjoy high quality reissues of these underappreciated gems in all their glory. Scroll down to explore some of these albums we have here at the vault.
Diggin' Groove Diggers Best Of Tribe (link here)
A perfect primer for newcomers and a great collection for those long-time fans. Compiled by the great digger himself, DJ Muro and released on P-Vine Records. An excellent curation with great reverence to the message and ethos of the label, while remaining open and accessible.
The style here is different than other collections of Tribe Records material – as Muro goes for cuts that showcase some of the more soulful, funky sides of the label – still very righteous overall, but with less of the longer or more avant-oriented tracks that came from the Detroit underground at the time. Muro's been giving us amazing collections for many years, and this one is no exception – a fantastic demonstration of his magical ear, as he makes his way through cuts that include "The Wok" by Wendell Harrison, "Ode To Africa (single version)" by Harold McKinney, "Ginseng Love" by Wendell Harrison, "Freedom Jazz Dance" by Harold McKinney, "Take Time Out" by Wendell Harrison, "Sounds From The Village" by Phil Ranelin, and "Belle Isle" by Wendell Harrison. - P-Vine
p.s. If you're into DJ Muro's style and taste, definitely check out his Diggers Dozen compilation of some of the grooviest tracks in the Japanese Jazz cannon.
Hometown: Detroit Sessions 1990 (link here)
Another solid primer of a compilation to get you started on your exploration into the world of Tribe, this time, with a modern touch.
The ‘Hometown’ compilation places the spotlight on this later era of Tribe and Rebirth Inc., with rare and previously unreleased recordings from Harrison’s WenHa / Rebirth Studios and the SereNgeti Gallery And Cultural Center. Among many highlights, Harold McKinney and his “McKinfolk” family of musicians contribute the pulsing ‘Wide And Blue’ and dance celebration ‘Juba’; Phil Ranelin re-works his classic ‘He The One We All Knew’; Poet Mbiyu Chui (Williams Moore), pianist Pamela Wise and percussionist Djallo Djakate spark on the uncompromising ‘Ode To Black Mothers’ and the rallying cry of ‘Marcus Garvey’: “If we ever get together we will astound the world.” Harrison himself evokes the power and majesty of juju on ‘Conjure Man’. - Strut
Gemini II (link here)
Expansive Soul-Jazz at its finest. Reissued on P-Vine Records.
The first album by Marcus Belgrave, featuring Wendell Harrison and Phil Ranelin, as well as Harold McKinney and Roy Brooks, all legends of the Detroit jazz scene in the 70's. This is the world's first LP reissue in the original jacket of this masterpiece full of spirituality and strong blackness, led by the spacey jazz funk "Space Odyssey," which was later covered by Carl Craig, a major figure in Detroit techno. Absolutely phenomenal album that ought to have a place in your collection.
Voices And Rhythms of The Creative Profile (link here)
Funky, electric, idiosyncratic and vocal 70s Soul Jazz from Harold McKinney. Reissued on Now-Again Records.
“Harold McKinney was one of Detroit's jazz legends as both an artist and as a cultural figure. His Voices and Rhythms of the Creative Profile was issued on the city's cooperative independent Tribe label. This is an adventurous set, and along with his deep, funky electric piano grooves is a killer alternately swinging and soulful horn section fueled by Harrison and Belgrave, drummer Ron Jackson, percussionists Charles Miles and Billy Turner, as well as bassist Ed Pickins and Daryl Dybka on Moog! The highlights of the set are the stunning "Out of These Blues" with McKinney's Rhodes underscoring beautiful head and solo work by the horns, the stomping bop meets science fiction of "Corner Stone," and fine covers of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" and Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" (with a set of lyrics by McKinney).” - All Music
Wendell Harrison & Phil Ranelin
A Message From The Tribe (link here)
The Tribe founders’ collaborative debut released in 1974.
Remixed from the original multi-track master tapes under the direction of its creators and lacquered by Bernie Grundman. Note: Phil Ranelin’s side has been pitch-corrected and restored to a suite, as was originally intended. Wendell Harrison’s side contains extended, full versions of two songs. The Tribe label, one of the brightest lights of America’s 1970s jazz underground, receives the Now-Again reissue treatment. This is your chance to indulge in the music and story of one of the most meaningful, local movements of the 20th Century Black American experience, one that expanded outwards towards the cosmos. In the words of the collective themselves, “Music is the healing force of the universe.” - Rappcats
Doug Hammond & David Durrah
Reflections In The Sea Of Nurnen (link here)
A real flowy, vocal rich LP that leans heavily into afro jazz roots.
An incredible session from the legendary Tribe Records scene -- an equal effort from leader Doug Hammond and keyboardist David Durrah, who contributes some ground breaking Fender Rhodes and moog work to the set. Hammond handles drums plus a bit of vocals and synthesizer on the session -- working alongside Durrah in a groove that mixes electric and acoustic instrumentation into a totally righteous sound with lots of heavy Afro Jazz leanings. A number of tracks feature great vocals from Hammond -- righteous, and with a beautifully soulful message-oriented approach -- and a few other tracks, such as the classic "Space I" and "Space II", feature a sparer all-electric sound. The whole thing's wonderful -- skittishly rhythmic, warmly flowing, and righteously beautiful. - Jazz Messengers
Wendell Harrison And The Tribe
Farewell To The Welfare (link here)
Previously unreleased! The first ever issue of this Spiritual Jazz album from Tribe Records co-founder Wendell Harrison.
Released on Now-Again Records in full quality - mastered from the original tapes and lacquered by Bernie Grundman. Powerful music from Wendell Harrison, one of the brightest lights of Detroit’s 1970s jazz underground. Farewell To The Welfare has a bit more of a funk / soul vibe to the record - tracks are long and overflowing with soul and spirit, backed with a strongly spiritual group that also features Ron English on guitar, Harold McKinney on keyboards and moog, and the great Phil Ranelin on trombone.
An Evening With The Devil (link here)
Now-Again Records once again with the standout reissue work! Remixed from the original multi-track master tapes under the direction of its creator and lacquered by Bernie Grundman. This LP has a strong message - not for the faint hearted, but ever so pertinent.
Wendell Harrison’s spiritual jazz reconciles relaxed ensemble arrangements with brusque free jazz attacks. Where it serves the message, spoken word poetry is added, right at the beginning, for example, in the shrill and angry 'Mary Had an Abortion' which juxtaposes violence against blacks with the right to abortion – there are still far more than enough white anti-abortion activists in the USA. Wendell Harrison never strays far from the avant-garde to soul-based groove, and sometimes the distance from one bar to the next in one and the same number is enough. - hhvmag
The Time Is Now! (link here)
The second album from trombonist and Tribe co-founder Phil Ranelin - taking inspiration from John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp.
Originally released in 1974, featuring Wendell Harrison and Marcus Belgrave amongst others, the set shows Ranelin to be an imposing composer and frightfully good trombonist. The album contained six compositions that are a deep musical brew of avant-garde improvisation, hard bop jazz esthetics, and soulful melodic ideas that were superimposed as a jump off point for both harmonic and rhythmic (read: Latin) invention. The stamp of Detroit is all over this thing. Tracks like the title and "Black Destiny" reflect the anger and vision of the era, while moving it all in a positive musical direction. Soloists on the set include the rest of the Tribe collective -- Marcus Belgrave and Wendell Harrison -- as well as local players who deserved far more than they received in terms of national recognitions: bassist Reggie "Shoo-Be Doo" Fields, trumpeter Charles Moore, pianist Keith Vreeland, drummer Bill Turner, and others including Ranelin himself. The arrangements on The Time Is Now were ahead of their time, clustering a rhythm section as part of the horn's front line ("13th and Senate" and the title track) and a stylistic angularity that reflected both musical history and futurism in jazz and R&B ("Time Is Running Out" and "Times Gone By"). Tortoise drummer and mastermind has remixed and remastered the entire album (and added three bonus tracks). Its sound and fidelity have changed substantially, but not the spirit or the letter of the music -- a remarkable achievement. The Time Is Now is a must for any vanguard jazz aficionado or anyone interested in the strange, rhythm-oriented evolution of Detroit music. - Allmusic
Vibes From The Tribe (link here)
Essential! Vibes From the Tribe is the sound of a city no one knew existed, a place vibrant with a cultural vision that included everybody.
The title track (here versioned three times, and I'm not complaining) is lusciously, greasily funky and stands in pretty stark contrast to the kind of airbrushed fusion that was in vogue at the time. "Sounds from the Village" is even better (and dirtier), showcasing Ranelin's oily trombone gymnastics and a viciously fuzzed guitar solo. "Wife" features Phil's singing and is oddly reminiscent of Frank Zappa's writing on Sleep Dirt; an affecting, snaking melody topped off with a beautiful solo from the leader, whose playing here has the grace of Bob Brookmeyer coupled with the agility of George Lewis. - BBC
Not on the Tribe label, but if you're into these records, you might also want to check out:
Phil Ranelin - Infinite Expressions
The Real ShooBeeDoo - Reminiscing
Wendell Harrison - Dreams Of A Love Supreme