Fred Wesley, a founding funk father, trombonist and musical director for James Brown’s long-time backing band, The J.B.’s, will be interviewed on the Feb. 2 edition of Java Jazz.
The program airs 6-9 a.m. and Wesley as the spotlight artist, is slated to be on the air at 8 a.m. Click here to listen live.
Wesley helped define the early funk explosion by co-composing such Brown classics as “Hot Pants,” “Get On The Good Foot,” “Papa Don’t Take No Mess,” “The Payback” and “Doing It To Death.” He was a key part of Brown’s most famous horn line-up which included Maceo Parker, St. Clair Pinckney and Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis along with drummer John “Jabo” Starks and guitarist Jimmy Nolen. The J.B.’s released a number of albums with Brown usually involved to some extent.
By the mid-1970s, Wesley followed a number of other ex-Brown sidemen when he joined George Clinton’s ever-changing Parliament-Funkadelic collective as part of the Horny Horns where he would record a handful of albums as their leader, primarily backed by members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
Never one to be pigeon-holed as an artist, Wesley joined the Count Basie Orchestra in 1978 and would release a string of jazz recordings To Someone (1988), New Friends (1990) and Comme Ci Comme Ca (1991). The 1990s saw him rejoin Parker and Ellis in the J.B. Horns as the unit recorded and toured until Ellis departed and the group became the Maceo Parker Band.
In his five decade-plus career, Wesley has performed with, produced and arranged for such artists as Cameo, Ray Charles, Randy Crawford, De La Soul, Lionel Hampton, Whitney Houston, Dr. John, Curtis Mayfield, The SOS Band and Vanessa Williams.
In 2002, his autobiography. Hit Me Fred: Recollections of a Sideman (Duke University Press), was published.