Fred Wesley, the trombonist and author best known as the man James Brown called on for all those funky horn "hits," now is the leader of his own jazz-funk band, the New JBs, which plays around the world. Fred also is involved in collaborations including Abraham Inc., and is in demand for guest and visiting artist appearances for a wide variety of artists, schools and other settings.
Legendary bandleader, trombonist and author Fred Wesley is one of the forefathers of funk who still is setting the standard with his jazz-funk band The New JBs. Together for more than 20 years, the band is a living celebration of roots funk and more, performing such hits as “Pass the Peas” made with James Brown and the JBs including Maceo Parker, as well as selections from the P-Funk years and Fred’s own and others’ soulful jazz and blues compositions.
Fred’s critically acclaimed memoir “Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Side Man” (Duke University Press, 2002) chronicles through hilarious stories a half century of music through the eyes of one of the world’s most-sampled musicians.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, and raised in Mobile, Ala., Fred began his career as a teenage trombonist with Ike and Tina Turner. He later was music director, arranger, trombonist and a primary composer for Brown from 1968-1975, then arranged for and played with Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band.
With Brown, Fred became “the world’s most famous sideman, orchestrating the sinuous grooves and contributing the bold, surgically precise solos that defined the language of funk.” He helped take funk to the next level with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins.
Fred has recorded a dozen solo albums including the cult favorite “House Party,” is featured in the Oscar-winning documentary “When We Were Kings” and countless other documentaries and books about the funk, and gives master classes around the world.
Also a veteran of the Count Basie Orchestra, Fred has worked with scores of other artists, from Ray Charles to Russell Gunn. His current projects include collaborations with the klezmer=funk-hip hop unit Abraham Incorporated, and his James Brown predecessor, mentor and friend Pee Wee Ellis.