Weldon Irvine – 1976 – Sinbad

WELDON IRVINE - 1976 - Sinbad'76 RCA) front

A Soul/Jazz gem.

Recorded with an exemplary supporting cast featuring pianist Don Blackman, guitarist Eric Gale, and saxophonist Michael Brecker, Sinbad explores the extremes of Weldon Irvine’s music, juxtaposing several of the keyboardist’s funkiest, most energetic grooves to date alongside mellow, contemplative performances of uncommon intricacy and beauty.

Inspired in both sound and spirit by the soul-searching Motown efforts of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, complete with covers of their respective “What’s Going On” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing“, Sinbad contrasts the elegant soul-jazz contours and luminous, horn-driven arrangements of the title cut and “Do Something for Yourself” alongside the nuances and soft pastels of “I Love You” and “Music Is the Key“. The resiliency of Irvine’s vision and the vibrant performances of his collaborators nevertheless create a kind of yin-yang dynamic that enables the album’s divided soul to operate in harmony.

Tracks
A1 Sinbad 6:21
A2 Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing 5:51
A3 What’s Goin’ On? 4:38
A4 I Love You 3:03
B1 Do Something for Yourself 4:45
B2 Music Is the Key 7:36
B3 Here’s Where I Came In 3:36
B4 Gospel Feeling 4:16

WELDON IRVINE - 1976 - Sinbad'76 RCA) back

Keyboardist Weldon Irvine looms large in the pantheon of jazz-funk, profoundly influencing the subsequent generations of hip-hop artists for whom he served as a collaborator and mentor. Born in Hampton, VA, on October 27, 1943, Irvine was raised by his grandparents in the wake of his parents’ divorce, and while his grandmother played standup bass in a series of regional classical ensembles, her husband served as dean of the men’s college at Hampton Institute. Irvine began playing piano as a teen, and while he later majored in literature at Hampton, music remained his first love, especially after discovering jazz.

Upon settling in New York City in 1965, he was recruited into Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson’s big band, a year later signing on with Nina Simone as the legendary singer’s organist, bandleader, arranger, and road manager. The two also wrote songs together, and after seeing a performance of playwright Lorraine Hansberry’s “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”, Simone instructed Irvine to compose lyrics for a song of the same title.

After two weeks of writer’s block, the words came to him in a flash of inspiration, and the finished song would later merit cover versions by performers including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Donny Hathaway on its way to becoming the best known of his approximately 500 published compositions.

WELDON IRVINE - 1976 - Sinbad'76 RCA) open

After splitting from Simone, Irvine formed his own 17-piece group that at different times included the likes of Billy Cobham, Randy Brecker, Bennie Maupin, and Don Blackman; in 1973, the Nodlew label issued his first headlining session, Liberated Brother, followed a year later by Time Capsule. Over the course of these records the keyboardist truly hit his stride, honing not only his singular yet skilled fusion of jazz, funk, soul, blues, and gospel — a direct antecedent of what would later be known as acid jazz — but also the social consciousness and impassioned spiritually that further defined his career.

In addition to subsequent LPs like 1975’s “Spirit Man” and the next year’s “Sinbad”, Recorded with an exemplary supporting cast featuring pianist Don Blackman, guitarist Eric Gale, and saxophonist Michael Brecker, “Sinbad” explores the extremes of Weldon Irvine’s music, juxtaposing several of the keyboardist’s funkiest, most energetic grooves to date alongside mellow, contemplative performances of uncommon intricacy and beauty. Inspired in both sound and spirit by the soul-searching Motown efforts of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, complete with covers of their respective “What’s Going On” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”, “Sinbad” contrasts the elegant soul-jazz contours and luminous, horn-driven arrangements of the title cut and “Do Something for Yourself ” alongside the nuances and soft pastels of “I Love You” and “Music Is the Key”. The resiliency of Irvine’s vision and the vibrant performances of his collaborators nevertheless create a kind of yin-yang dynamic that enables the album’s divided soul to operate in harmony.

Irvine also began writing musicals for the stage, and in 1977 New York’s Billie Holiday Theatre produced his “Young, Gifted and Broke”, which proved both a commercial and critical smash that won a series of awards during its eight-month run. The Billie Holiday Theatre also mounted more than 20 of Irvine’s other musicals, most notable among them “The Vampire and the Dentist”, “The Will”, and “Keep It Real.”

But while Irvine focused on his stage projects, his recording career fell by the wayside, and following 1979’s “Sisters” he did not headline a new LP for another 15 years. In that time his work was rediscovered and praised by a growing number of politically minded young rappers, especially Boogie Down Productions, A Tribe Called Quest, and Leaders of the New School, all of whom sampled his vintage recordings.

Unlike many artists of his generation, Irvine embraced these upstarts in turn, in 1994 recording the hip-hop-inspired “Music Is the Key” for the indie label Luv’N’Haight. Three years later he cut “Spoken Melodies”, even rapping himself under the name “Master Wel”, and that same year lent keyboard and string arrangements to Mos Def’s “Black on Both Sides”….he even gave piano lessons to rappers Q-Tip and Common. In 1999 Irvine called on Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Q-Tip for “The Price of Freedom”, a searing indictment of police brutality inspired by the death of Amadou Diallo, a defenseless African immigrant murdered in a hail of gunfire by New York City cops.

On April 9, 2002, Irvine committed suicide outside a New York City office complex — he was just 58 years old.

 Weldon Irvine’s music has been sampled by:

A Tribe Called Quest, Dj Food, Blackstar, BDP, Leaders Of The New School, Memphis Bleek, Blood Of Abraham, Madlib, J Dilla and Dr.Dre.

Buy the Album

Download the Album

Tags:
,
25 Comments
  • Nothingbuthefunk
    Posted at 01:41h, 25 March 2017 Reply

    👍👍👍

  • Mathias
    Posted at 01:55h, 25 March 2017 Reply

    Soul/jazz/funk from a dream team. Love stevie’s cover. Overall a gem.

  • Erol
    Posted at 01:56h, 25 March 2017 Reply

    still have this on a 45 classic

  • Jorge
    Posted at 11:26h, 25 March 2017 Reply

    Mucas gracias amigo Nik

  • Doris
    Posted at 17:16h, 25 March 2017 Reply

    wow my mom used to play this all the time

  • Rebecca Black
    Posted at 01:46h, 26 March 2017 Reply

    I was looking for old school songs and this came up, I love it lol!

  • Mick
    Posted at 01:54h, 26 March 2017 Reply

    Back to a time when you had to have talent to make it in show business.

  • Lemy
    Posted at 11:49h, 26 March 2017 Reply

    REAL MUSIC FROM BACK IN THE REAL DAYS.#1

  • Ray Hamilton
    Posted at 12:19h, 26 March 2017 Reply

    This shit is so playa to this day

  • Leticia
    Posted at 18:57h, 26 March 2017 Reply

    This music feels very nostalgic. Feeling great

  • Russell
    Posted at 21:17h, 26 March 2017 Reply

    U r sooo right

  • Eric7
    Posted at 22:06h, 26 March 2017 Reply

    He created some of the most lovely songs. Thanks for remind me a classic.

  • Andrea
    Posted at 09:36h, 27 March 2017 Reply

    Serious stuff

  • Narada90
    Posted at 10:09h, 27 March 2017 Reply

    If you are one serious groove collector you get this, WELDON IRVINE is a MUST!

  • Paul McNamara
    Posted at 23:46h, 27 March 2017 Reply

    BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  • Funkdrug
    Posted at 09:46h, 28 March 2017 Reply

    Pure pleasure.

  • Ahmad
    Posted at 10:47h, 28 March 2017 Reply

    Soul meets jazz. Awesome album.

  • Mou Khai
    Posted at 11:13h, 28 March 2017 Reply

    wooow dude gold area on blogs. keep on educating us.

  • Nash
    Posted at 14:06h, 28 March 2017 Reply

    also from my part thanks for sharing such a beautiful album!

  • Danilo
    Posted at 19:43h, 28 March 2017 Reply

    Just discovered this artist and searching for more brought me here. Thank you for this post and link.

  • Charles Adam
    Posted at 11:26h, 29 March 2017 Reply

    Turning up the speakers so my office becomes a joy emitter…
    amazing passion album too

  • SALAM
    Posted at 22:55h, 29 March 2017 Reply

    Respect from Morocco

  • Francois
    Posted at 23:16h, 29 March 2017 Reply

    I always have a smile on my face when starts stevie’s cover of Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing

  • Barry Ericson
    Posted at 18:26h, 31 March 2017 Reply

    Oh how I’ve missed this album…. Thanks for posting some of the most beautiful music ever created!

  • Nuno Lourenco
    Posted at 22:25h, 06 April 2017 Reply

    What a great record!

Post A Comment

Anti Spam: Please complete the following before clicking on *add comment* *