A Tribe Called Quest introduced me to Weldon Irvine almost 19 years ago. I’m still getting to know his sound and the musical legacy he left behind. One thing I can tell from listening to Irvine’s music is that he’s funky, soulful, talented, and unafraid to mix genres. All of the records borrow from various elements, as in this song called “I Love You” which I’m going to shout out to a graphic designing artistic ramen dreamer.
Irvine was born in Hampton Virginia originally, but spent much of his adult life in New York City. He was a solo artist and band leader, a composer, and a playwright. From what I’ve read it seems he began singing at an early age, then later picking up the piano, as well as electronic keyboards. His career spanned over 15 albums, and at least 30 years. With writing and arranging songs for Nina Simone, composing for the Billie Holiday Theater in Brooklyn, or mentoring artists like Q-Tip and Mos Def and other greats in jazz, funk, and hip hop; he truly was a prolific artist.
The cover of the LP is what truly caught my eye. It has a beautiful portrait of Irvine incorporating angels, dragons, and other mystical creatures. When record shopping sometimes I look for the artists name; but many times I’ll look for interesting covers. The design of the type and its juxtaposition with the images is just beautiful artwork and great design. You can’t leave a record like this sitting in a bargain bucket. Sinbad is said to be on of his best albums, which “I Love You” is taken from and was released in 1976 on the RCA. Coming off a high point with Nina Simone, you get to hear a well thought out and beautifully played piece, one that showcases his influences and his maturity. The song “I Love You” starts out with a gentle and gliding piano. Then it shows off his beautiful arrangements by incorporating electronic keys, bass guitar, strings, and soulful vocals. This should be played loud as hell at weddings as the first dance, or turned up in headphones when your day is dragging on, or repeated over and over at a romantic dinner. Enjoy!