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Fred Wesley

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House Party Fred Wesley 07:18
Got My Mojo Working Fred Wesley 05:45
House Party (remastered version) Fred Wesley 04:28
Peace Power (remastered version) Fred Wesley 06:21
Just Like That (remastered version) Fred Wesley 04:13
Funk For Your Ass Fred Wesley, Bootsy Collins 05:12
The Ballad Of Beulah Baptist Fred Wesley 03:39
Ernie's Bag Fred Wesley 04:25
Introduction To The JB's / Doing It To Death The J.B.'s, Fred Wesley 12:35
Eight Counts for Rita Fred Wesley 02:47

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Bandleader and trombonist Fred Wesley was one of the key figures in defining the language of funk, earning a reputation as the world's most famous sideman in his role as musical director of The JBs -James Brown's famous backing band.

Wesley was born in Columbus, Georgia, in the early 1940s. He was moved to Mobile, Alabama at an early age and by the time he was three he was learning classical piano under his grandmother, a music teacher. It was his father, Fred Wesley Sr, who proved to have the bigger musical influence on the young Wesley, however. He played big band music and chaired the Mobile Central High School's music department. Wesley first learned trumpet, then trombone, and at 12 he made his first professional appearance in a big band led by his school's music teacher. Soon he was playing with local R&B bands and while studying music at Alabama State had brief stints with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue and Hank Ballard & the Midnighters.

After serving in the military Wesley briefly played with his own operation, The Mastersound, but it quickly fell apart and it was a call from J.B.'s trumpeter Waymon Reed that set him on the path that made him famous. Wesley signed on as trombonist for James Brown and began a long, fruitful and sometimes difficult association with the singer. The pair often clashed and Wesley split with the J.B.'s for a couple of years from 1969 to 1971. When he returned, however, it was as arranger and musical director. Wesley is credited with having a massive impact on classic funk albums such as 'Black Caesar', 'Slaughter's Big Rip-Off' and 'The Payback'.

Along with Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins he helped with Brown's shift from soul to funk and participated in setting the tone for a decade of R&B. In his tenure with Brown Wesley even wrote a few of the singer's hits, including 'Doin' It to Death' and 'Papa Don't Take No Mess'. Ultimately, however, the pair's creative clashes drove him to split with Brown in 1975, never to go back.

Wesley signed on with George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic for a more harmonious collaboration, to the extent that Clinton even wrote for Wesley's solo debut 'A Blow for Me, a Toot for You' (released under the band name Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns). Wesley released a second solo project, 'Say Blow by Blow Backwards', in 1979 before returning to the world of jazz.

He played with The Count Basie Orchestra and spent much of the 1980s contributing to sessions by the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, Barry White, the Gap Band, Curtis Mayfield and Terry Callier. In the 1990s he returned to putting out solo records, releasing a stream of albums over the next few decades, both alone and with collaborators such as Leonardo Corradi and Tony Match.