Monday, September 17, 2018

Back on Vinyl: On sale now!

Collectors and DJs rejoice! Fred’s back on vinyl for the first time since the ’80s with the release of  Fred Wesley Studio Live Session, available now at

In addition to playing some beautiful festivals throughout Europe, the summer found Fred with his New JBs in the tiny nation of Lichtensein, where both the recording and the official release of the limited-edition vinyl happened: the former in the state-of-the art Little Big Beat Studios last spring, and the latter in July at the Vaduz Soundz Festival.

Also in July, the band laid the tracks for their forthcoming album From The Blues and Back, celebrating the music that’s at Fred’s core, due to drop June 1, 2019.

 Quick band meeting on the Littie Big Beat terrace. With Peter Madsen, Dwayne Dolphin, Fred, Bruce Cox,  Gary Winters and Reggie Ward
Looking forward, fans can catch the New JBs in Europe in November, including at the JazzNoJazz Festival in Zurich. Click here to buy tickets now.

Looking back, the summer tour finished up at Mindel Summer Jazz in faraway Mindelo, Cape Verde. 

Google Maps screenshot showing location of Cape Verde.

Mindel Jazz team with the band featuring Ernie Fields Jr.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Celebrating his Birthday and The Blues!

On tour with his beloved New JBs and working on new music for his coming Blues album, Fred marked 75 trips around the sun on the July 4 birthday he shares with the United States of America.
Fred celebrating his birthday with band members 
Enjoying a few days off now after the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Blues Festival in Birmingham, England, he and the band head back Friday to Little Big Beat Studios in Liechtenstein for four days of recording. Little Big Beat is the site of the band’s Studio Live Session last spring, the fruits of which are rolling out now, including a limited edition vinyl to be released this week.

At Mostly Jazz, Fred was delighted to run into old friends Roy Ayers, Ryo Nakata and his band Osaka Monorail,  BBC announcer Craig Charles and Sister Sledge, who were with Fred in Zaire for the epic 1974 music festival captured in the documentary films  “Soul Power” and “When We Were Kings.”
Fred with Kim and Debbie Sledge

Fred with Roy Ayers and Craig Charles

The tour resumes July 18 in Paris.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Remembering “Jabo”

Fred reunited with JBs bassist Fred Thomas and New JBs saxophonist Phillip Whack for DJ Phantom’s JBs Skate Revolution at Chicago’s Glenwood Roller Rink. It was a funky good time and a chance to pay tribute to JBs drummer John “Jabo” Starks, who passed away last week. Below is a tribute Fred wrote for his homeboy, band mate and friend.

STOP YOUR HEART GROOVE: John “Jabo” Starks, October 27, 1936-May 1, 2018

An essay of remembrance by Fred Wesley

It can be argued that E.B. Coleman is the architect of funk. He taught Jabo and he taught me. Jabo and I had to have caught that groove from somewhere, and Coleman was the obvious carrier. He had the swaggeraggressiveness and that “in your face” attitude about performing that is required to play funk. Coleman was my junior high school teacher and had previously taught Jabo in some “up-the-country” town in Alabama.  When I found that out, I couldn’t wait for him to introduce us.  You see, I was only 12 or 13 years old, but Jabo was already a big star in the Mobile, Alabama area.

He was playing with the Castanets, the baddest band in the area in the South, and as I now knowthe baddest band in the world. We finally met, at some kind of affair at Booker T. Washington Junior High School, and I was thrilled.  Thrilled to meet the man who was able to drive that band  a band ofalready bad individuals, into a frenzy like I have never seen before. I knew right then that I wanted to go on the road andplay exciting music for all kinds of people and have plenty offun doing it. I wanted to be just like Jabo.

I didn’t get to work with Jabo until I joined James Brown in 1968. He continued to thrill me when I heard him play Going to Kansas City.” That “stop your heart” groove was still there.What he did for the Castanets, he did for Bobby Bland, B.B. King, James Brown and for Oli and the people at the Red Bar in Drayton Beach Florida. From 1971 to 1975 I was lucky enough to have recorded many hits with Jabo on the drums. “The Big Payback“ and Papa Don’t Take No Mess“ are just two of the hits from our time with James Brown. We recorded “Pass the Peas”, “Gimmie Some More” and many, many others with The JBs.  

Jabo and I became good friends as we dealt with the erratic leadership of James Brown. He dealt with it his way and I dealt with it my way and fortunately things turned out well for us both.
We didn’t become really close friends until he invited me to The Red Bar. The Red Bar is a charming little restaurant and bar near Panama City Florida. Jabo had a band there and invited me to sit in with themIt was the sweetest gig I’ve ever played. I use the word sweet because that is the vibe down there. Everybody is sonice, accommodating and so appreciative of the music. I mean,just really sweet. I don’t know how Oli and Jabo got together but they were a perfect match. And they welcomed me to this slice of heaven with open arms. 
That “stop your heart” groove continued as we got closer and closer. We talked about our time with James Brown. We talked about his time with Bobby Bland. We talked about our families and really got to know each other. We not only appreciated and respected each others’ musical talents, but we appreciated and respected each other as men.

Jabo loved being on the road. But he loved his family too. Most of his talk was about how much he loved his wife Naomi and children, Sonia and Mark. He often spoke of how proud he was of them. He loved to entertain people. He loved to laugh. He loved to groove. He’d look at you and smile when he knew he had you locked into that “stop your heart” groove. The special bond that we had was undeniable. 
Maybe we have Coleman to thank, or maybe it was just meant to be. Without a doubt, he was my favorite drummer. I could lose myself in his “stop your heart” groove and just blow free. We had it like that. You can hear it on “Doing It To Death” aka “Gonna Have A Funky Good Time.” I rode that groove like I was flying through the wind.

As the years passed, our personal relationship grew stronger and our families grew closer. He was and will always be an inspiration to me. He will always be a guide in my life. It was difficult for me to call him John Starks. John Starks was a normal person. I had to call him Jabo. Not a normal person, a geniusAicon of music. A divine entityHe had that “stop your heart” groove in his body, and in his soul. He will always be Jabo  my teacher, my partner, and my friend.###

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Gracias, Spain! Hola Boston, Augusta, Paris, Casablanca ...

Many thanks to the many funk and jazz lovers who welcomed Fred with his Generations Trio during their March tour. Fred, young Italian organist Leonardo Corradi and next-generation French drummer Tony Match were welcomed warmly across the mainland and on the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and Majorca. Many thanks to Andres Marvelli for the photos below from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria Island.

Next on his agenda is a visit to Boston University, which will commemorate the 50th assassination anniversary of favorite son alumnus Martin Luther King Jr. with events including a free, public panel discussion and a master class, both of which will feature Fred, who was there in 1968 and is featured in the documentary "The Night James Brown Saved Boston."

Then he'll stop in the Godfather of Soul's hometown, Augusta, Ga., where he'll appear with the James Brown Band at the annual Major Rager, a golf-centric fundraising event during The Master's golf tournament, which this year features George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.

Then it's back to Europe for a tour with his full unit, The New JBs. It will start in Paris, then after a detour through Africa for the Jazzablanca Festival, wind through the Czech Republic, London, Amsterdam, Belgium, Switzerland and finally back to France. Check the dates and get tickets at the homepage,
The trio onstage on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. Photo by Andres Marvelli.
Leo Corradi's hand at work. Photo by Andres Marvelli.

Fred onstage in Las Palmas. Photo by Andres Marvelli.
A gift from a Spanish artist and fan in Marbella.

Spanish news coverage.

More Spanish news coverage.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Preparing for a sacred start to 2018

Fred's halfway through his winter break, gearing up for his first concert of the year: the annual Hymns and Spirituals Concert with the Mark Sterbank Group in Charleston, S.C., happening this year at the Simons Center Recital Hall, 54 St. Philip St. For more information call 843-766-8814. 

The following week he'll cross the Atlantic for a tour of Spain with his Generations Trio. The tour will include stops in the Canary Islands and on the island of Mallorca!

While he's been home Fred's been preparing for the completion this year of his blues album, which got underway last year and will be finished this year at the Little Big Beat Studios in Lichtenstein. Click here to enjoy 360-degree video from the Live Session the New JBs played there last June.

Look forward to more jazz in 2018, too, since Fred got bitten and smitten anew with the musical genre that was his first love. Many thanks to his "bone brother" Teddy Adams and the talented young trio that accompanied them in December at the Good Times Jazz Bar in Savannah. Stay tuned for more dates to come.