Wednesday, July 04, 2018

'Bone On the Fourth of July: Fred Wesley 75

Let's inaugurate the month of July with a milestone birthday shout out to one of the formative Funk founders of the firmament.
He joined James Brown's alpha/omega band in the mid Sixties and became one of its linchpins and most long-tenured members, helping the Godfather ignite the advent of the Funk.
He began to make records under his own name in about 1972, dropping several gold standard LPs that the hip-hoppers still mine for samply bits today.
In around 1975 he landed on the Mothership, co-leading the Horny Horns section through some of Papa George's most enduring and lunatic madness in the Parliafunkadelicment Thang.
The Horny Horns became so beloved they made a few topselling platters of their own, until our hero split P-Funk altogether and went with Jazz icon Count Basie in 1978.
This turn into straighter Jazz led to albums as a leader in the Eighties, until he got back together with Maceo Parker and Pee-Wee Ellis to form the JB Horns project in the early 1990s.
He's arranged for artists as diverse and revered as Cameo, Ray Charles and De La Soul. For an insight into the entire arc of his 50-year career, I'd suggest his Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman autobiography.
Who the Funk is Fred? Why Fred is Fred Wesley, born this day in 1943 and waving the Funk flag ever since.
To celebrate we have some appropriate cookout tunes. This is a full, gorgeously captured set from 2000 and finds Fred and Pee-Wee Ellis leading the birthday guy's Jazz Funk Explosion group through a whole action film's worth of, well, Jazz and Funk explosions.
Fred Wesley's Jazz Funk Explosion
Estival Jazz
Piazza Della Riforma
Lugano, Switzerland

01 Del Sasser
02 No One But You
03 For the Elders
04 In Love In L.A.
05 Chicken Soup 
06 Inarticulate Speech of the Heart

01 What's Up with That
02 Cold Sweat
03 Spain
04 Four Play
05 Pass the Peas
06 House Party
07 Bop to the Boogie

Total time: 1:36:13

Fred Wesley - trombone, vocals
Pee Wee Ellis - saxophone, vocals
Gary Winters - trumpet
Ernie Fields Jr. - saxophone
Peter Madson - piano, keyboards
Dwayne Dolphin - bass
Reggie Ward - guitar
Bruce Cox - drums

1st gen DAT of a master soundboard capture
This is a burning set, captured by a Swiss soundman and delivered here from a first generation DAT of the soundboard master. Everything from JB to Van Morrison is rendered with maximum Oneness.
I shall return in a couple of days with another tribute to another titan of the trombone, who left us last week. But for now you better set off the fireworks in the folder I have cloudposted and make sure you Funk for Fred Wesley -- 75 today! -- around the grill today.--J.

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