Fancy hearing some of the “Same Beat” and “Blessed Blackness” at the ultimate UTB “House Party” 30th July 2016?
Greetings, I will be spinning ahead of one of the most important trombonist Fred Wesley who along side the late Wayne Henderson pioneered the funkier side of jazz with that big band sound with a touch of “Blessed Blackness’ Saturday 30th July 2016 is where the SW6 “House Party” will be at, so I advise you to get your tickets when Fred Wesley & The New JB’s will be “Breaking Bread” with a touch of “Rice & Ribs” and “More Peas”. Now you know “Funky Music Is My Style” and “I Wanna Get Down” with some “Doin’ It To Death” beats so make sure your there if you don’t want to be square!! Here is some of my interview with Fred in The Soul Survivors Magazine
You obviously knew of James Brown’s repertoire as he was for at least ten years before already known as the hardest working man in show business.
Actually I never thought I would play with him as I wasn’t a fan of his music. We knew him as a showman and called him a screaming hollering sissy who wore a lot of make up dancing around the stage. Me and my piers we unimpressed with James Brown and thought he was a clown. Again it wasn’t a gig I really wanted as I’d have rather played with Horace Silver, Art Blakey or Cannonball Adderley. But it was a gig and I was married at the time with two daughters and still had aspirations to go to New York or LA and be discovered as a jazz trombonist, as by now my chops was good but I got stuck in James Browns band.
Essentially its evident to me that jazz and be bop was your first love(It was). This is apparent on albums where you performed as The JB’s or Fred Wesley And The JB’s. I noticed around 1968 from an album James Brown “Directs And Dances With The James Brown Band The Popcorn” which I believe you were on, that it’s predominantly instrumental and very jazzy in its arrangements.
Does it have “Popcorn”, “In The Middle” and “Why Did I Treat You So Bad” on it? (Yes). Well thats more Pee Wee Ellis on that album and performing on it I learnt from Pee Wee how to integrate the jazz and the funk together to make a new form of music. My expertise came in around “Soul Power”, “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved”, “Get On The Good Foot”, “The Big Payback” and “Hot Pants” as Pee Wee Had left by then. Yes the jazz influence enhanced James Brown’s sound with the JB’s and I added my own stuff to it .You hear me totally arranging on “Breaking Bread” and “Damn Right I’m Somebody”.
Thats what I thought you can clearly hear how James Brown was moulding as you describe the jazz and the funk elements on albums like The JB’s “Food For Thought”. You can hear on your solo’s like on “Blessed Blackness” that you had come into your own. You wrote that with Charles Bobbit didn’t you?
Well I wrote it myself years before I joined James Brown and Charles is credited but was not involved. “Wine Spot” and “Blessed Blackness” are written by me only, “Pass The Peas”, “Gimme Some More”, “Hot Pant’s Road” and “To My Brother” I co wrote. But James Brown would put other peoples names on the track so they could earn extra money and Charles Bobbit was credited on a lot of tracks which he inspired but didn’t write. For example I just got a royalty statement from Sony about the movie scores we did and his name is all over it.
You said you wrote “Blessed Blackness” way before it was recorded on the “Food For Thought” album. What inspired the song and the title?
It was my first wife who was black and a very sweet girl when I married her and I wrote that tune for her because she was blessed blackness.
On the “Doing It To Death” album a favourite of mine I really liked “Sucker” the jazz number where you sound comfortable in the jazz mode.(I know what you mean). What did you think when you saw the cover of “Damn Right I’m Somebody”?
I didn’t know what to think at first with the old lady on the front although I knew it was portraying us being black and proud and saying damn right I’m somebody. But I didn’t understand the picture and its reality at the time but now I do because its about our roots from slavery till now.
You wrote “Damn Right I’m Somebody” and “Blow Ya Head” a big tune that was sampled by Public Enemy..
I tell you a funny story bout that. It was already a finished tune before James Brown came into the studio and added the moog. He saw the moog in the corner and asked “What is that?” I said “Mr Brown it a moog and we gonna try it out on a few songs” . He said “ Fire it up and let me hear how it sounds”. So we turned it on and he just started messing with it hearing this wah wah sound. He instructed us to run the track and thats how the moog stayed on the track. To be honest thats what made the track a hit as we had not intended to put the moog on the track in the first place.
Tickets for Fred Wesley @ Under The Bridge