Born in Mobile, Alabama., Fred Wesley began his professional career as a teenage trombonist with Ike and Tina Turner. He was music director, arranger, trombonist and a primary composer for James Brown from 1968-1975, then arranged and played for Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band. He has played with and arranged for a wide variety of other artists including Ray Charles, Pancho Sanchez, New York Voices, Slide Hampton, Van Morrison, the SOS Band and Cameo, to name a few. Scores of other artists including Janet Jackson and Nas have sampled his work. Since his stint with the Count Basie Orchestra, he has maintained a focus on jazz – playing, recording, writing and promoting it.
TROMBONE PLAYER: Fred Wesley has no equals in American music. Whether it’s jazz, funk, R&B, blues or other, his solos are always hot. BANDLEADER: From his direction of James Brown’s fabled JBs to today’s Fred Wesley Group, he knows how to choose the best musicians and meld them into tight units that generate mad heat.
ARRANGER AND COMPOSER: Some of funk music’s biggest hits by James Brown, the JBs, Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band are living testaments to his skill, as are his soulful jazz compositions such as “For the Elders,” “La Bossa” and “No One.”
SIDE MAN: The reliability and fire he’s contributed to bands ranging from the Count Basie Orchestra to the American Idol Band, make him a sure bet in any setting.
AUTHOR: His half-century career is a treasure trove of stories, some of which fill the pages of his compelling memoir “Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Side Man.”
MUSICOLOGIST AND EDUCATOR: Wesley shares his wealth of musical knowledge and experiences through liner notes, articles and interviews, and with young musicians in settings including classrooms, band rooms and recital halls at colleges and universities worldwide.
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