Keyboardist, Composer and Arranger Weldon Irvine was perhaps "the" unsung pioneer who brought jazz and funk/soul music together as one, which led to an American musical style later known as "Fusion". After moving to New York City, from Hampton, VA, he became musical director for, and co-writer with singer Nina Simone. After his stint with Simone, he returned to New York to become the leader of his own Jazz Big Band at Slugs, a band which featured every big name in the NYC Jazz scene at the time. Drawing from these experiences, he was able to combine Soul and Jazz music in a funky new way and was able to document much of this experimental work by recording his own albums, which were then picked up by major labels.
Much of this music influenced other musicians who went on to spread his musical message further, and with far more notoriety. Notable protégés included celebrated jazz-funk pioneers such as Larry Blackmon, Marcus Miller, Bernard Wright, Tom Brown, and Lenny White, among countless others. Irvine's recorded music also later became a wealthy resource for sampling material in Hip-Hop, and Irvine, rather than go against the grain of the Hip-Hop generation, celebrated and collaborated with it. This recording features Irvine in 1992, with a later version of his small combo, Weldon and The Kats. Here we can find Irvine not only playing keyboard and his small group arrangements of some of his favorite tunes by other writers, but some of his own recorded compositions, as well as a rare recording of his own rap vocals. Lead horn on this outing is "Master's Last Student", (who also showcases here as a rap emcee)Joey "G-Clef" Cavaseno, who was at the time pioneering his own fusion of sorts, with his group Ghetto Philharmonic, at the time, bringing Jazz and Hip-Hop together for the first time. This mutuality formed a strong bond between Cavaseno and Irvine, and this is possibly the only recording that displays their synergy and close friendship. Drummer Greg Latty and bassist Jerry Brooks, by this time were Irvine's mainstay rhythm section for several years, due to their proficiency in both the Jazz and Funk idioms. Irvine was known to record not only all his gigs, such as this one, but even his musical thoughts, poetry, interviews, you name it. He would record all of it with his portable boom box, which he would carry around no matter where he went, and this live recording was done on that very box, and this master is taken from one of Irvine's own cassette tapes. What this recording is lacking in sound quality, it more than compensates for in buoyancy, spirit, and edgy soul. Therefore it is out believe that many can and will enjoy listening to this musical time capsule, preserved thanks to Weldon himself. Enjoy this warm evening in Brooklyn, courtesy of Weldon and The Kats.