02. Here's Where I Came In 6:35
03. Blues Wel-Don 8:25
04. Mr. Clean 5:25
05. Gloria 4:00
06. Homey 4:30
07. Juggah Buggah 4:35
08. Sister Sanctified 3:15
Bass [Fender] – Roland Wilson
Drums – Chipper Lyles, Napoleon Revels (tracks: B1)
Electric Piano [Rmi Electrified] – Weldon Irvine
Flugelhorn – Preston Williams
Guitar [Electric] – Tommy Smith
Melodica – Weldon Irvine (tracks: B3)
Percussion – Chipper Lyles (tracks: B1), Napoleon Revels
Piano – Weldon Irvine
Synthesizer [Moog] – Weldon Irvine (tracks: B4, B5)
Recorded and re-mixed at Sound Ideas Studio, New York, N.Y.
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, 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 debut as a leader remains one of the most fiercely idiosyncratic electric jazz outings of the early '70s. Innovative not only for its moody, nuanced jazz-funk sensibility, Liberated Brother also translates the uncommonly strong passion of Irvine's political and philosophical views into its grooves, creating music of rare sincerity and ambition. While the record's first-half features longer, more meditative songs, like the Latin-inspired title tune and "Blues Wel-Don," the second side of Liberated Brother commands the most attention. With sterling contributions from guitarist Tommy Smith, bassist Roland Wilson, and drummer Napoleon Revels-Bey, cuts like "Mr. Clean" and "Sister Sanctified" (later sampled by Boogie Down Productions for the rap classic "My Philosophy") achieve a deeply funky consciousness forged from elements of jazz, soul, and psychedelia; "Juggah Buggah" even features Irvine on Moog synthesizer, further expanding the LP's cosmic reach.