All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Tribe: Message From The Tribe: An Anthology of Tribe Records 1972-1976

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
If the 1960s was the decade of sexual liberation and psycho-pharmaceuticals, the 1970s was the decade of self-empowerment and community activism, and nowhere was this more true than in black America. Musicians were among the vanguard of the activists, forming collectives to increase their leverage within the "entertainment" industry and, through education projects, to strengthen their links with the communities in which they operated. The first, and still the best known, of these collectives was Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, which was actually founded in 1965, but whose community work was ramped up significantly around 1970. Another was the Strata-East Records label founded by pianist Stanley Cowell and trumpeter Charles Tolliver in New York in 1971.

Less well remembered—and until now, barely documented—was the Tribe collective, which ran a record label and published a quarterly black awareness magazine, and was active in Detroit from 1972-77. Among its organizers were trombonist Phil Ranelin, saxophonist Wendell Richardson and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.

British label Soul Jazz Records' lovingly put together package Message From The Tribe: An Anthology Of Tribe Records 1972-1976 includes a one-hour compilation of Tribe recordings, a 60-page booklet, most of it consisting of articles from Tribe magazine, and a selection of postcards featuring the magazine's front covers.

Between them, the Tribe musicians played with, on the one hand, drummer Max Roach, saxophonist Charlie Parker, keyboards spaceman Sun Ra, guitarist Grant Green and pianist McCoy Tyner, and on the other, with singers Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations; before Motown Records' relocation from Detroit to Los Angeles in 1972, the musicians had supplemented their jazz earnings with session work at Motown. These experiences—and an enthusiasm for the electric grooves being contemporaneously championed by pianist Herbie Hancock—all come together on the recordings included here. P-Funk originator George Clinton may have been the man who coined the expression "free your ass and your mind will follow," but Tribe subscribed to the same aesthetic, albeit with a lot more jazz—some of it distinctly "out"—thrown into the mix.

The music is vibrant and timeless, but to read through the articles from Tribe is, in 2010, to step back 35 years. These were angry times, and it's no surprise to come across a review of a TV documentary which concludes: "Any doubts that the viewing audience may have had about the inherent bestiality of the white man were laid to rest with this telecast." More surprising is the inclusion of a sympathetic profile of the Detroit-based civil rights activist Father William T. Cunningham, "a Caucasian working towards the elimination of racism, discrimination and bigotry."

An important addition to the black music archive, Message From The Tribe walks the talk.

Track Listing: David Durrah: Space 2; Phil Ranelin & Tribe: Vibes from the Tribe; Phil Ranelin & Tribe: Sounds from the Village; Doug Hammond: Moves; Tribe: Beneficent; Tribe: What We Need; Marcus Belgrave: Space Odyssey; Phil Ranelin & Tribe: For the Children; The Mixed Bag: La Margarita; Doug Hammond: Wake Up Brothers; Wendell Harrison & Tribe: Tons and Tons of B.S.; Tribe: Farewell to the Welfare.

Personnel: Marcus Belgrave: trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion, miscellaneous instruments (2, 3, 5-7); Charles Moore: trumpet, flugelhorn, miscellaneous instruments (5, 6); Phil Ranelin: trombone, vocal, percussion, miscellaneous instruments (2, 3, 5-8, 11); Kareem Harris: tuba (11); Ralph Jones: soprano saxophone (11); Otis Harris (or Harrison): alto saxophone (4, 10); Wendell Harrison: tenor saxophone, flute, miscellaneous instruments (2, 3, 5-8, 11); Aaron Neal: bass clarinet, miscellaneous instruments (5); Larry Nozero: reeds, flute, cuica (9); Buddy Budson: electric piano (3); Kenny Cox: electric piano (2); Geoff Dunsun: keyboards (9); David Durrah: Moog & Arp synthesizer, piano, Fender Rhodes (1, 4, 10); Daryl Dybka: mini Moog synthesizer (7); Charles Eubanks: electric piano, miscellaneous instruments (6); Harold McKinney: piano, electric piano (7, 8, 11); Keith Vreeland: electric piano, miscellaneous instruments (5); Ralph Armstrong: electric guitar, bass (3, 8); Jerry Glassel: guitar (9); Charles Burnhorn: violin (4, 10); Travis Mickeel: violin (4, 10); Charles Metcalf: bass violin, electric bass (4, 10); Will Austin: electric bass, acoustic bass (6, 11); Ron Brookes: bass (9); Ron English: electric bass (2); Reggie (Sho Be Doo) Fields: acoustic bass (5); Lopez Leon: electric bass (2, 3); Ed Pickens: electric bass (7); Frederick Boon: percussion (4, 10); Roy Brooks: percussion, miscellaneous instruments (7); Lorenzo Brown: bongos (7); Ike Daney: drums, miscellaneous instruments (6); George Davidson: drums (2, 3, 8, 11); Barbara Huby (or Hubie): congas, percussion (3, 8, 11); Dave Koether: percussion (9); Bud Spangler: percussion (8); Dan Spencer: drums, percussion (9); Thomas (Turk) Trayler: percussion (4); Billy Turner: drums, percussion, miscellaneous instruments (5, 7, 11); Lawrence Williams: congas (11); Doug Hammond: drums, melodica & Arp synthesizer, vocals (1, 4, 10); Jeamel Lee: vocals (6).

Title: Message From The Tribe: An Anthology of Tribe Records 1972-1976 | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Soul Jazz Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Wherever You're Starting From CD/LP/Track Review
Wherever You're Starting From
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery CD/LP/Track Review
Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 21, 2018
Read From Silence to Somewhere CD/LP/Track Review
From Silence to Somewhere
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 21, 2018
Read The Questions CD/LP/Track Review
The Questions
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Meerkat Parade CD/LP/Track Review
Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "So Nice!" CD/LP/Track Review So Nice!
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "Eleven" CD/LP/Track Review Eleven
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "By A Thread" CD/LP/Track Review By A Thread
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Greatest Hits Live" CD/LP/Track Review Greatest Hits Live
by Doug Collette
Published: September 2, 2017
Read "Two Roads" CD/LP/Track Review Two Roads
by Jim Olin
Published: May 12, 2017
Read "Shamat" CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017