Various Artists: Message from the Tribe (Universal Sound/Southbound)

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Doug Hammond: Wake Up Brothers
Various Artists: Message from the Tribe (Universal Sound/Southbound)

On the surface this may look like one for those with selective taste: here is a 12 track collection of inner city jazz from Tribe Records out of Detroit between '72 and '76.

The dates are important: Motown had all but gone from the city, many of the jazz musicians had been used as session players but were inspired by Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman and politicised free jazz, and the self-determination which black power politics advanced was the impetus to create their own collective, The Tribe.

The package comes with facsimiles of the covers of their pamphlet/magazine (articles on black revolution, John Coltrane, busing, Jessie Jackson, Sun Ra and so on).

So this is a kind of historical document -- but it also delivers some fiery jazz and funk emblematic of its period (flutes were big), a time when music was a political expression.

Importantly however this collection doesn't just default to jazzy funk but includes the yearning vocal track Moves by Doug Hammond, the bluesy tone poem What We Need and the nine minute Space Oddysey (sic).

Drawing from Afro-Cuban percussion, Stevie Wonder, free jazz, streetcorner funk and Sun Ra's cosmic vision, the Tribe delivered singular music which even now conjures up a specific time and place, yet sounds alarmingly fresh and innovative.

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