In 1971, Harrison began teaching music at Metro Arts (a multi-arts complex for youth) where he also connected with Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney and Phil Ranelin…soon after they formed the (now legendary) Afro-centric TRIBE record label and artist collective. TRIBE used the Metro Arts complex as a vehicle to convey a growing black political consciousness. Wendell Harrison also published the very popular TRIBE magazine, a publication dedicated to local and national social and political issues, as well as featuring artistic contributions such as poetry and visual pieces.
In 1978 Harrison and McKinney co-founded REBIRTH, a non-profit jazz performance and education organization, in which many notable jazz artists have participated. Around the same time Wendell Harrison also created the WENHA record label and publishing company, which released many of his (now classic) recordings as well as those of other artists, such as Phil Ranelin, Doug Hammond and Reggie Fields (The Real ShooBeeDoo).
In the early 1990s, Wendell Harrison was awarded the title of “Jazz Master” by Arts Midwest. This distinction led Harrison to collaborate with fellow honorees and gave him the chance to tour throughout the United States, Middle East and Africa. Even to this day Wendell Harrison's recordings for the TRIBE, WENHA and REBIRTH labels have a large worldwide fanbase.
It is on WEHHA in 1990 that Harrison released (and self-produced) the opus: ‘Fly By Night’ which we are proudly presenting you today. ‘Fly By Night’ is a monster of an album featuring an all-star line-up that includes Doug Hammond (Mingus, Lonnie Liston Smith) on drums, Kirk Lightsey (Chet Baker, Calvin Keys) on piano, Cecil McBee (John Hicks, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane) on bass, Jaribu Shahid (Sun Ra) on contrabass and Pamela Wise (Tribe) on Piano. Harrison is killing it here with this selected ensemble (guys he grew up with in Detroit in the late 50’s, when hard bop was the thing and Miles and Coltrane were the heroes of the day). This group of talented veterans are taking this classic album to unseen heights.
On ‘Fly By Night’ the gloves come off…no more jazzy-funk or poppy-jazz. Wendell picks up his tenor for one tune but the remainder of the sessions he performs on clarinet. Wendell’s mastery coaxes the sweet piquant sound of the instrument and as it re-emerges in the contemporary jazz scene. The eight handpicked tunes demonstrate the fertile new directions Wendell Harrison has been working on, combing standards with a fresh new approach.
On these amazing recordings (recorded at the Rebirth Studios in Detroit) the listener is invited to experience a synthesis of what has been and what is now. The record shows Wendell’s trademark proficiency. All of the above makes this incredible record both timeless and as relevant today as it was back when it was initially released.
Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents ‘Fly By Night’ for the FIRST TIME on vinyl (the album was only released as a limited compact disc back in the early nineties). This unique record comes as a deluxe 180g vinyl edition (strictly limited to 500 copies) with obi strip. This vinyl edition also features the original painted front cover artwork by Virgil Grady (known for his work with Tribe records) and back photography by acclaimed Detroit scene photographer & author Barbara Barefield, whose work has appeared in many renowned publications such as The New York Times, LA Times, People magazine and countless others. Released exclusively for Record Store Day 2023 (UK/Europe) and available in participating stores on April 22, 2023.