About the Album
Liner notes for IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME, written by John Shetler, producer:
A while back, a writer billed Jazz Master Wendell Harrison as a former Tribe member. Wendell voiced his disapproval, “What the hell is that?” Wendell and Phil Ranelin founded Tribe in 1970. Wendell Harrison IS Tribe. It’s this seven-year stretch of his fifty-year career that gets mentioned most in the articles and bios.
However, Wendell Harrison is much more than Tribe. He is much more than a jazz musician. Wendell is a composer, arranger, entrepreneur, educator, and author. He has toured the world with his various projects, and has been asked by many other musical heavy-hitters to join them. In addition to his own impressive catalogue, you can hear Wendell Harrison on albums by artists as varied as John Arnold, Proof, Hank Crawford, Will Sessions, Sean Blackman, Carl Craig, and Amp Fiddler, who returns the favor by getting dirty on this album with Wendell’s classic, “Love Juice”.
After touring with Carl Craig, and performing a Tribe reunion in 2009, Wendell was inspired to focus on beats and grooves. For this album, he brought a group of strong Detroit players. Listen to Vaughn Klugh’s tough guitar on Urban Expressions, bassist Damon Warmack’s soulful solos on First Love and The Wok, or Djallo Djakate’s crisp, funky drums on Take Time Out. Detroit has always produced world-class talent, and the folks on this album are no exception.
Except for Daahoud, which was written by one of his favorite bebop artists, the late great trumpeter Clifford Brown, everything here is an original composition. His originals on this release span back as far as the sixties, with Where Am I being the oldest, pre-dating Tribe. There’s something new here too: First Love was commissioned by Chamber Music America, a prestigious organization based in NYC. It’s a complex piece offered up by Wendell and his group here for the first time. Old or new, all of these numbers are given a fresh treatment.
While most musicians his age drop out of the scene and just keep doing the same old thing, Wendell is always paying attention. He knows what’s happening. He’s been working in Detroit and all over the world, keeping his chops sharp and hunting for something new to inspire him. That’s why he’s playing more tenor then he has in a long time. That’s why he’s back on vinyl for the first time in over two decades. That’s why he’s playing with the best younger players in Detroit and elsewhere.
Just in case you forgot how great Wendell Harrison is, listen to this album. It has been seven years since he has put out a project under his own name. The truth is Wendell Harrison has been too busy for the last seven years to settle down and put out a new record. Now that it’s here, all I can say is…IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME.