Tuesday, Jul 13 2004 | 13:51

Shortly after jazz great Weldon Irvine’s tragic death in 2002, Madlib entered his studio with bassist Monk Hughes of Yesterdays New Quintet and composed an instrumental tribute album to his spiritual mentor’s life and music. It’s fitting “ Irvine was one of the first to give Madlib’s Yesterdays New Quintet project respect as part and parcel of jazz’ ever expanding legacy.

The Monk Hughes & The Outer Realm CD, “A Tribute To Brother Weldon” was first manufactured as an “in-house” Stones Throw Records listening-piece complete with a custom cover and a press run of about ten copies. An early dub made its way to tastemaker Gilles Peterson, who played it on his acclaimed Worldwide Show on BBC/Radio 1 in the UK.

Those who knew the project often asked the same question that the cult who followed Yesterdays New Quintet’s promo-only “Stevie” release asked: “When is this thing going to see a proper release?” Now, over a year later, “A Tribute To Brother Weldon” follows up “Stevie” as the second in a series of YNQ projects to be commercially released by Stones Throw Records in 2004.

Yesterdays New Quintet – Monk Hughes & The Outer Realm: A Tribute To Brother Weldon (Stones Throw, CD/2LP)


01. Prelude / Run With The Sun (Afterlife)
02. A Piece For Brother Weldon
03. Irvine’s Vine
04. Time
05. Welldone
06. Liberated
07. Keys
08. Still Young, Gifted & Broke
09. Nodlew’s Sea
10. Day Of Spirit Man
11. Master Wel’s Tune
12. The Beginning, The Middle & The End

All music written and performed by Monk Hughes & The Outer Realm, inspired by the music of Weldon Irvine, 1943-2002


Weldon Irvine (Composer, Lyricist, Musical Director, Arranger) has been a prominent musician since 1964, when the quintet to which he belonged won the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival at Villanova. He received a BA degree from Hampton Institute in 1965 with a major in English Literature and minored in Speech, Drama, and Music Theory. Arriving in New York that same year, Irvine was soon to form his own 17-piece band, which served as a workshop for the finest talent in New York, to include Billy Cobham, Lenny White, George Cables, Randy Brecker, Steve Grossman, Bennie Maupin, and many more. He has recorded seven albums, directed plays, conducted lectures, performed in concerts all over the world, composed a liturgical jazz service for a 50-voice choir, and received grants from the National Endowment For The Arts.

In 1977 The Billie Holiday Theatre produced his blockbuster, “Young, Gifted, and Broke”, a musical that surpassed all previous box office records in its 8-month run. “Broke” also won four Audelco Awards, including best musical. Also produced by the Billie Holiday Theatre have been his three works, “The Vampire and the Dentist”, “The Will”, and “Keep It Real”, as well as “Sunshine Lovin'”, “Donny’s House”, “Satan Never Sleeps”, and “Over Forty”, each having music composed by Weldon Irvine.

His more than 500 compositions have been recorded by such luminaries as Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrnetine, Horace Silver, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, and the Fat Back Band. He wrote the lyrics for the now classic “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”, first recorded by Nina Simone (for whom he worked as Musical Director and more recently used in the film “Higher Learning”.

His songs have been sampled by many hip-hop artists, including KRS-ONE, Ice Cube, A Tribe Called Quest, Leaders of the New School, Too Short, Casual, Top Authority, Third Bass, and many others. As a way of reaching a new audience, Weldon has played keyboard on the Black Star CD and on Mos Def’s “Black On Both Sides” as well as his latest release, “The Amadou Project”.

A man who has created much and who lives to create much more, Weldon Irvine remains an artist driven by the fervent desire to share.

For more information about Weldon Irvine and his influence in today’s Hip Hop culture, please read an article written by Nathaniel Turner for ChickenBones – A Journal for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes:


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