Comments Off on Weldon Irvine – Liberated Brother (Nodlew / Pure Pleasure)
Pure Pleasure have been on fire recently with a string of outstanding jazz reissues from labels such as Strata East and Tribe and that rich vein of form now continues with a welcome reissue of Weldon Irvine’s Liberated Brother.
This was Weldon Irvine’s debut as a headliner on his own label Nodlew (Weldon backwards). He had previously been in Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson’s big band before signing on with Nina Simone as the legendary singer’s organist, bandleader, arranger, and road manager. It was during this time and at Simone’s request he wrote ‘Young Gifted And Black’ after two weeks of writers block the words came to him in a moment of inspiration.
After splitting from Simone he set out on his own releasing Liberated Brother in 1972 and the follow up Time Capsule in 1973 truly finding his own voice with his unique fusion of jazz, funk, soul, blues, and gospel and combined with his social consciousness and spirituality created a timeless sound.
After the 1979 album Sisters it would another 15 years till he would release an album as leader again but in the intervening years he would be rediscovered and embraced by politically minded rappers such as Boogie Down Productions, A Tribe Called Quest and Leaders Of The New School all of whom sampled his work. Unlike some of his contemporaries he embraced this new generation of artists as mentor and guide as well as helping musically artists such as Mos Def, Q-Tip and Common.
Irvine never lost his social conscious and in 1999 called upon Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Q-Tip to record The Price of Freedom, a searing indictment of police brutality inspired by the death of Amadou Diallo, a defenceless African immigrant shot dead by New York cops.
On April 9, 2002, Weldon Irvine committed suicide outside a New York City office complex — he was just 58 years old.
Liberated Brother stands as a testament to an artist at the peak of his art uniting aspects of his life, love of music, spirituality and social consciousness into a truly groundbreaking album