TIR 27: Fred Wesley Tells How He Hit It Off With J.B. and P-Funk

Fred Wesley (second from right) with the rest of P-Funk’s Horny Horns players Maceo Parker (far right), Richard “Kush” Griffith (far left) and Rick Gardner, circa 1977.


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on the One: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in this episode: Trombonist, bandleader, arranger and composer Fred Wesley, best known for his landmark work with James Brown and the J.B.’s and associated acts, and George Clinton, including Parliament, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, the Horny Horns, and other P-Funk offshoots. Subsequently, he has gone on to record and perform in the jazz idiom, as well as funk it up under his own name and with the JB Horns featuring longtime sax-playing greats Maceo Parker and Pee Wee Ellis.

Among the classic and unforgettable tracks Wesley has imprinted with his indelible, one-of-a-kind bone tone are “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” “Hot Pants,” “Doing It to Death,” “More Peas,” “Gimme Some More,” “Same Beat,” “Damn Right I Am Somebody,” “Licking Stick,” “The Payback” and “Make It Funky.” And that is just a sampling of his James Brown-related work from 1968-1975. His amazing work with P-Funk from 1975-1983 included their seminal Parliament albums Mothership Connection, The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome and The Motor Booty Affair; Bootsy’s Rubber Band’s Stretchin’ Out, Ah … the Name Is Bootsy, Baby! and Bootsy? Player of the Year; and so much more. In addition, Wesley has recorded with George Benson, Bobby Womack, Bill Laswell, Soulive, Marcus Miller, Hank Crawford, Idris Muhammad and Esther Phillips, among many others. All told, he has appeared on more than 150 albums!

With a body of work that positions him as one of the principal architects and builders of the funk music genre and one of popular music’s most soulful horn players, in 2002 Wesley released his autobiography Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman and in 2015 the Mobile native was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. At 74 years young, this innovator’s passion remains undiminished as he presently plays with multiple groups and keeps pushing the proverbial envelope by touring the world and experimenting with new sounds.

Recorded October 2017


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