An Evening With The Devil (LP)

An Evening With The Devil (LP)

Wendell Harrison
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Tribe co-founder and saxophone legend Wendell Harrison’s 1973 leader debut!

Following the 1972 release of Message From The Tribe, the second release from vaunted spiritual jazz label Tribe, was co-founder Wendell Harrison’s solo debut, An Evening With The Devil. Originally included on the A-side of Message From The Tribe’s first version (the edition featuring a photo of a quay on the cover), the release of An Evening With The Devil in 1973 saw the suite fully realized, with two additional songs and studio knowhow making the album a true spiritual jazz masterpiece. Opener “Mary Had An Abortion” is part-spoken word poetry and part-free jazz freak out, but as Harrison’s gravelly baritone intermingles with atonal piano lines, it transcends the limitations of both. “Consciousness” is in a similar vein, with cymbal crashes and drum fills serving as a backdrop for a poem with references to police brutality and racism that seem as relevant now as they were 50 years ago.

“Angry Young Men”, originally recorded on Message From The Tribe, is now split into two parts and placed at the end of the A-side and opening of the B-side, physically and musically bridging the original suite with the new compositions. A horn line that could only be described as angry descends over an aggressive drum pattern, and as Tribe regulars Marcus Belgrave, Phil Ranelin, Charles Moore, and William Austin take turns soloing, the rhythm section seems to get more aggressive, undulating under these solos that take the song’s message and express it through simple notes. But it’s Harrison’s extended solo on the B-side that truly makes the song. He starts out almost subdued, playing fairly standard hard-bop lines over minimal accompaniment. But he quickly picks up, letting his horn honk and screech, with flurries of notes that almost sound like screams. The rhythm section matches him, building and building until Harrison plays the head once more - finally allowing the band to return to normalcy.

In comparison, album closer “Rebirth” is almost calm, with Marcus Belgrave playing a somber melody over a bed of rumbling percussion. It practically sounds like a requiem, until five major chords are struck by the band, ending the album on a literal joyous note. If Harrison hoped to express death and rebirth with this final song, the juxtaposition of the two completely disparate sections does a perfect job.

The hallmarks of a Tribe album are all over An Evening With The Devil. It’s spiritual and technical, and words simply don’t do it justice (despite my best attempts). Yet it also stands out among the Tribe releases by being one of the first. The DIY aesthetic and iconic design language are all there, but when presented with a sound that could only be described as raw, these early recording techniques are just right. The only way to truly experience the album is to put the needle to the groove, and let the music of Wendell Harrison wash over you. P-vine is proud to be reissuing Wendell Harrison’s An Evening With The Devil with modern remastering and an obi-strip on limited edition black vinyl.


A1. Mary Had An Abortion
A2. Where Am I
A3. Vol II Angry Young Man Part I

B1. Vol II Angry Young Man Part II
B2. Consciousness
B3. Rebirth