A Master of Fine Arts thesis film project (New York University Graduate Institute of Motion Picture and Television Production, 1975), The Edification of Weldon Irvine is a 60-minute, 16mm documentary of the jazz musician and playwright. Produced, written, directed and edited by Collis Davis, the film takes the audience through a journey in the life of Irvine from his childhood days in Virginia to the late ‘70s in New York.
The Edification of Weldon Irvine portrays the struggle of a young African-American to attain some measure of peace of mind amidst a troubled family background, a turbulent adolescence, and a mercurial professional career with RCA Records. A childhood playmate of the filmmaker, Collis Davis, Weldon talks about growing up in Hampton, Virginia, his fascination with weapons, his mentors such as songstress, Nina Simone, for whom he served as musical director, personal discipline as an artist and as a professional gambler, and his quest for inner enlightenment. For more detail on Weldon Irvine’s life, please click here for an article written by Collis Davis for the Program Booklet of the 41st Hampton Jazz Festival of 2008.
Throughout the documentary, Weldon is seen in performance at New York's well-known jazz club, The Village Gate, a studio solo piano performance, and a rousing song and dance number from his musical, "Young, Gifted and Broke". Additionally, there is a audio performance of the Hampton University choir singing Weldon's arrangement of the Negro Spiritual, "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" edited to a montage of a Charles White mural, "The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America", and historical still photographs taken at the University. A review of The Edification of Weldon Irvine can be read at the following web site: http://www.jazzsociety.ph/html/reviewarchive10.html