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Album Review

Phillip Ranelin/Wendrel Harrison “A Message from the Tribe” [Tribe Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   12-inch, Format, Jazz

A hippy vibe with Black Pride coming from the flip side of
Motown Records. This album oozes “lanquidity” coasting from
note to note. I preferred the first side, guided by label
co-founder and trombonist, Phil Ranelin. He keeps bassist
Charles Eubanks popping, and then adds vocals from Jeamel
Lee on two tracks to pour a little Angela Davis gasoline
on the simmering warmth. By the time that side ends, he’s
built up a firecracker of a number with “How Do We End
All Of This Madness” on which he sings as well. Ranelin’s
trombone adds to the curvaceousness of this release, only a
few moments of Wendell Harrison’s sax spike up out of the
mellifluous melange. What holds this all together, and
maybe holds the spiking solos back, is the omnipresence of
electic piano. It’s just an instrument that fills, often
prettily, but rarely commands. It is more dominant, along
with some flute on the side that Harrison composed. Some
30 years later, Ranelin is still rolling, co-creating his
own label with artistic control back then showed a lot of
foresight and soulful sound.

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