Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Fred Wesley

Peter Madsen By

Sign in to view read count
It ain't easy being a trombone player in today's music world. They seem to have gotten a bad reputation over the years. You know, strange looking instrument, blatty sound, slow and clunky. There's an awful lot of jokes about them out there none of which will be repeated here for I myself love the trombone and have had the fortunate opportunity to have played with some of the greatest trombone players around, from Conrad Herwig to Robin Eubanks, from Dave Taylor to Ku-uma Frank Lacy and from Ray Anderson to Steve Turre. But the one that has knocked me out the most is the incredible and versatile funky Fred Wesley.

Most people know Fred Wesley merely as James Brown's funky trombonist from the 1970's. But Fred was and is much more than that. Fred is one of the greatest writers and arrangers of funk music on planet earth and from the very beginning he has been an integral part in defining the funk sound. His horn arrangements have been and still are the guiding light to other soul and funk horn sections. Along with Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley was a member of the original JB's, one of the most incredible funky horn sections of all time. For those of you who haven't heard them play together don't walk, run to the nearest CD shop to hear what I'm talking about.

After leaving James Brown, Fred went on to play with the post-modern president of the funk world and "captain of the mothership" himself George Clinton. Clinton combined theater, science fiction and funk to develop a unique brand of black music in the 70's and 80's. Many bands evolved out of George Clinton including Parliament, P. Funk, Funkadelic, and Bootsy's Rubber Band all of which Fred was a major part of as well as his own Horny-horns. Talk about a funky mouthful. But a lot of people don't know that in 1978 Fred decided to join the Count Basie Orchestra. Yes, Fred can play jazz. I mean he can really play jazz. He's got the most beautiful sound and he loves bebop to death. After playing with Fred for the past eight years or so I've discovered that a lot of musicians in the funk world can play jazz. I've recorded with Maceo Parker who can play some seriously soulful jazz as well as Pee Wee Ellis who was studying with Sonny Rollins in the 70's when he wrote one of the most famous James Brown tunes of all time, "Cold Sweat". (Check it out, the main lick is really just from "So What").

For the past ten years Fred has been working again with Maceo and Pee Wee but also has formed his own band, which I feel, honored to be a member of. We have recorded four albums and tour Europe once or twice every year. This last summer we played many of the large festivals in Europe including the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival. The first three CD's we recorded are on the German record label, Minor Music and the most recent is on the NY/Eagle Records label and is called Full Circle. It's a cool CD that shows Fred's interest in the full scope of American popular music from funk to jazz to blues to hip-hop to R&B. It's really great, go check it out! You'll be glad you did. See you next month.


comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Date Detail Price
7:00 pm
Fred Wesley
The Hideaway
London , UK

Related Articles

Read Ornette Coleman and Humanity: Parts 1 and 2 Wide Open Jazz and Beyond
Ornette Coleman and Humanity: Parts 1 and 2
by Matt Lavelle
Published: June 26, 2015
Read Ode to Jef Lee Johnson:  The Promise of Lovolution Wide Open Jazz and Beyond
Ode to Jef Lee Johnson: The Promise of Lovolution
by Charles Blass
Published: February 22, 2013
Read A Question of Time Wide Open Jazz and Beyond
A Question of Time
by Alan Bryson
Published: September 8, 2009
Read Jazz Out There: Out of Print and Unavailable Wide Open Jazz and Beyond
Jazz Out There: Out of Print and Unavailable
by Jack Gold-Molina
Published: November 19, 2004
Read "Duski at the Bronx Bar" Live Reviews Duski at the Bronx Bar
by Barry Witherden
Published: May 12, 2018
Read "Telling Stories and Singing Songs" The Jazz Life Telling Stories and Singing Songs
by Peter Rubie
Published: February 26, 2018
Read "Nenad Georgievski's Best Releases of 2017" Best of / Year End Nenad Georgievski's Best Releases of 2017
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Singer/songwriters from the Shadows: Jay Bolotin and Ted Lucas" Multiple Reviews Singer/songwriters from the Shadows: Jay Bolotin and Ted...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 25, 2018
Read "Seven Women 2018 – Part V" Bailey's Bundles Seven Women 2018 – Part V
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 9, 2018