Harold McKinney was one of Detroit's jazz legends as both an artist and as a cultural figure. His Voices and Rhythms of the Creative Profile was issued on the city's cooperative independent Tribe label -- which also boasted outings from Marcus Belgrave, Doug Hammond, Mixed Bag, Wendell Harrison, and Phil Ranelin -- in 1974. McKinney's approach to jazz in the 1970s may have been funky and electric, but it was also idiosyncratic and vocal. Harold and Gwen McKinney handle the lead vocals, while a backing chorus of seven helps out on other pieces. This is an adventurous set, and along with his deep, funky electric piano grooves is a killer alternately swinging and soulful horn section fueled by Harrison and Belgrave, drummer Ron Jackson, percussionists Charles Miles and Billy Turner, as well as bassist Ed Pickins and Daryl Dybka on Moog!
The highlights of the set are the stunning "Out of These Blues" with McKinney's Rhodes underscoring beautiful head and solo work by the horns, the stomping bop meets science fiction of "Corner Stone," and fine covers of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" and Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" (with a set of lyrics by McKinney). Voices and Rhythms of the Creative Profile walks many tightropes: between hard bop and soul-jazz, between vanguard jazz and fusion, and between swinging blues and raw adventure. It's true that the vocals can be a bit excessive at times, especially on the opener, "Ode to Africa," but they are more than compensated for by the phenomenal playing of the ensemble. Ultimately, this is a solid recording that embodies the entire spirit of the Detroit jazz scene at the time. The P-Vine reissue on CD contains two bonus tracks, the A- and B-sides of McKinney's "Ode to Africa" b/w "Jelly Loa" 45 on Juba.