One of the most unique albums on the Strata East label – and that's saying a hell of a lot, given the creative energies flowing through that legendary jazz outlet! Descendents Of Mike & Phoebe is a righteous little project put together by filmmaker Spike Lee's father, Bill Lee, and his brothers and sisters (Cliff Lee, Grace Lee Mims, and Consuela Lee Moorhead) – working here in a group named after their slave ancestors, who are paid tribute in a beautifully flowing batch of tunes!
Lee's round, warm bass tones are firmly at the head of the group on most numbers – recorded at a similar level to his excellent work with Clifford Jordan on Strata East during the same time – and other instrumentation includes piano from Consuela, flugelhorn from Cliff, and percussion from Sonny Brown and Billy Higgins – all used in a wonderfully evocative style that's even better than some of Lee's later soundtrack work. A few numbers feature vocals from Grace – singing wordlessly and with a really heavenly sort of quality – and together, the whole group have a undeniable sense of power and majesty, yet also one that's touched by a really personal sense of poetry too.
Titles on 1974's A Spirit Speaks include a great version of Lee's "Coltrane," which was more famously recorded with Clifford Jordan – plus "Chick Chick," "Attica," "Too Little, Too Late," "Boll Weevil," "Don't Be A Stranger" and "Well Done, Weldon."
Consuela Lee Moorehead (piano)
Bill Lee (bass)
Cliff Lee (flugelhorn)
Billy Higgins, Sonny Brown (percussion)
Grace Lee Mims (vocals)