Monday, December 19, 2011

Documenting James Brown on Seattle radio

The latest in  Michele Meyers' series of radio documentaries for Seattle station KEXP, 90.3 FM, is "James Brown Creates Funk," and it features Fred and Rickey Vincent, who wrote the definitive book Funk, the Music the People and the Rhythm of the One, as well as the foreword to Fred's book. Click here to listen to the documentary archived online.

Speaking of Fred's book, the Funky Fred Wesley Store is sold out of hardback copies, which are going for more than $80 USD on Amazon.com, but there's still time to get an autographed softcover in time for holiday giving. Also available is the CD compilation, "The Best of Fred Wesley, Vol 2." Visit www.funkyfredwesley.com.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Celebrating Cousin Song's New Japanese release

In addition to "The Lost Album," Fred also is excited about the Japanese release of the "Let Love Shine" album by his "new" cousin Song Byrd. Song, who Fred met for the first time in 2008 at the Detroit funeral of his beloved "Aunt T.T.," Sarah Stevens Edwards, who was Song's grandmother by marriage.  It turned out she is an excellent neo soul singer who has become close family, and with whom he looks forward to playing at least one gig in 2012.  


Comparing her to Dionne Warwick, Chaka Khan and the late Phyllis Hyman, Japan's Sweet Soul Records released the album under an exclusive license agreement with French Nu-Jazz producers Alexandre Tassel and Guillaume Naturel (Tassel & Naturel). "Let Love Shine" features guest artists including Marcus Miller, Manu Katché, E-Z Trigga, Acquenin, DJ Cam, and the late Guru, the other half of the hip-hop duo Gang Starr.

Song performing with Tassel & Naturel
Song
Fred will appear as a guest with Song and Tassel & Naturel on March 2, 2012 at La Fabrique in Nantes, France. He also hopes to have her appear with the New JBs on some gigs during the summer. 

After the release of her first album, "In The Fireplace" in 1999, Song moved to France where she participated in the recordings of several albums. She has been featured on albums such as "Street Soul," "Just A Feeling," "Deux Pieds Sur Terre," and "Fillet of Soul Opus 2." She has been on stage with the likes of Keziah Jones, Les Nubians, Manu Katché, and Lisa Stansfield, and has opened for Lil Brother, Bobby Lyle, Peabo Bryson and the late great Isaac Hayes.

Check her out:
http://www.facebook.com/thesongbyrd



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Lost Album" found and on sale now

Just in time for the holidays, "The Lost Album (Feat. 'Watermelon Man')" has been found and is available now on Amazon.com, which touts it with this editorial review:

"In the early 1970s, as James Brown gained new ground with a hungry group of young musicians he called "The J.B.'s," the Godfather of Soul knew one man could best lead the band: Fred Wesley, the trombonist who was a master at funk arranging. Under Brown's direction, Wesley would become famous for his solos, and leadership, on the classic hits "Soul Power," "Gimme Some More" and "Pass The Peas." Brown thanked Fred, who was a jazzman at heart, by offering him a jazz album under his own name: The JB's and Fred Wesley. Recording ensued; a single was issued, "Watermelon Man," but the LP release was cancelled. Now, from Hip-oSelect.com, is the complete album as Fred Wesley intended, with six of its nine tracks issued for the first time anywhere, plus four bonus tracks from the sessions that were only previously issued as 45-rpm singles. Except for "Watermelon Man," which used the J.B.'s - with Brown himself on drums - The JB's and Fred Wesley features the cream of New York studio musicians: Randy and Michael Brecker, Joe Farrell, Eddie Daniels, Steve Gadd, Ron Carter and many others. The album is rich with then-current hits, from Brown's own "Get On The Good Foot" to Bill Withers' "Use Me," the standard "Secret Love," which Wesley had been playing for years, and originals by Fred and his arranger Dave Matthews, all in a tightly arranged jazz-funk setting. With the conclusion of the James Brown Singles Series, it would seem the JB vault is dry. Not so: The JB's and Fred Wesley/ The Lost Album featuring Watermelon Man is but one release of more from the archives."

Click here to buy it now. Enjoy!

In the mix at MoMA

Fred's friend Vincent Provini, who interviewed him in Paris for France's FIP radio station to promote the release of "With A Little Help From My Friends," will spin some of Fred's music at New York City's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on January 5, 2012.

Provini and fellow DJ Luc Frelon together are "L'Improbable Mix," "DJs who play around the world, keeping in mind the eclecticism of FIP while tailoring their live sets to the environment, from festivals and dance parties to museums and performance spaces."

Jan. 5 will find them as the featured guests for MoMA Nights, a fun series that features DJs, drinks and dinner.

Click here to listen to his interview, and here to see a photo from the visit to the station.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Playing for kids in Cali; flashbacks in photos

Still healing from his hand surgery and plagued with a bit of a bug, Fred nonetheless managed to finish out the Abraham Inc. mini-tour this month with an exciting show for a theater full of children in kindergarten through 5th grade at UC-Berkeley, through the Cal Performances SchoolTime program.

In front, l-r, David Krakauer, Fred, Brandon Wright, Freddie Hendrix. In back, rapper C-Rayz Walz.


As the year winds down, we're remembering some of the highlights thanks to photographers sharing photos, including the following shots from Jean-Christophe Shen-ku Dupasquier from the New JBs' stop in Switzerland in September, and Piotr Siatkowski, from the Abe Inc. visit to Poland in June. Thanks JD and Piotr!







Piotr the shooter got shot himself during the soundcheck at the Jewish Cultural Festival in Krakow, where he caught this shot of Fred.
Piotr Siatkowski, Socalled, Freddie Hendrix

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Out West with Abraham Inc.

Fred, still recovering from minor carpal tunnel surgery he had on Nov. 2, is sporting a stylish bandage on a three-show swing with Abraham Incorporated that started Thursday night at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Sound engineer David Merrill posed with Fred before catching shots of Fred playing during the Thursday evening sound check, as well as several, including the one below, of his trusty trombone, ready for action.

 Fred caught the following shots himself at the same soundcheck, of Socalled and rapper C-Rays Walz.

Socalled

Socalled, C-Rayz
 Before the surgery, Fred stopped in at LeCafe Jazz, in Columbia, S.C., where he jammed a little with old and new jazz friends including local singer Cheri Maree.

Fred, Cheri Maree

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A jazzy good time in Europe

Fred got a chance to immerse himself in his musical first love, jazz, during a European performance at Birdland in Ingolstadt, Germany, as part of the all-star tribute to Lionel Hampton that gave him a chance to play and hang with jazzy friends including saxophone legend Red Holloway, jazz vocalist extraordinaire Carla Cook, Swedish trumpeter Anders Bergcrantz and German drummer Guido May.

Red Holloway with tribute promoter Jason Franklin
Carla Cook
Anders Bergcrantz
Guido May
 The week before, promoter Jason Franklin took Fred with his Lionel Hampton Tribute to Le Havre, France, where the featured artists also included vocalist Kevin Mahogany,  trumpeter Ronald Baker and alto saxophonist Jesse Davis. Fred's buddy Pee Wee Ellis performed with his band in Le Havre the next day.

Ronald Baker and Jesse Davis
Fred, Ronald and Pee Wee

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fred, Pee Wee and Maceo: Back together again in New York

The long-awaited reunion of the trio once known collectively as the JB Horns finally happened in New York, at the Town Hall before an enthusiastic crowd that got the Funky Good Time it came to enjoy.

Among the enthusiasts on hand were photographers Dino Perrucci (who took the shot above), Allison Murphy and Greg Aiello, who shared shots including the ones below. Also on hand were new friends including Rica Nik, who also took some photos.
Rica and Fred
Keep scrolling past the concert shots for more photos documenting the rest of the visit to New York, which included a recording session with D'Angelo, a visit to Julliard to see a performance by younger trombone star Wycliffe Gordon, and a music development session with semi-retired New York session singer Joshi Armstead.

Fred, Maceo and Pee Wee also had the pleasure of being interviewed by New York Times writer Larry Rohter, who turned in this fine article, and New York Times photographer Chester Higgins Jr., who got these shots and who, it turns out, is from Lower Alabama like Fred.

Pee Wee, Maceo, Fred

Fred, Maceo, Pee Wee

Fred, Chester, Pee Wee, Maceo
Yuri (of Blake Zidell & Associates PR), Fred, Joya, Pee Wee, Maceo, Charlotte (Pee Wee's wife and manager)

Thanks to all who made the adventure so much fun!

Thanks, Dino, for these shots:











Thanks, Greg, for these shots:




 Thanks, Rica, for this shot:


Finally, enjoy these shots from our family cameras:
Chester shooting Fred
Pee Wee, Times writer Larry Rohter, Maceo and Fred

Fred recording a trademark solo for D'Angelo's upcoming release.

D'Angelo and Fred

Wycliffe and Fred at Julliard

Joshi and Fred