Fred Wesley Jr.

Fred Wesley Jr., trombonist, grew up in Mobile, the son of Fred Wesley Sr., a music teacher at Mobile Central High School and big band leader. He joined the Ike and Tina Turner Review in 1962. A period with Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and Army service preceded his work with James Brown 1968-70 and 1971-5.

He served as band leader and musical director of Brown’s band The J.B.’s and did much of the composing and arranging for the group. He left Brown’s band in 1975 and spent several years playing with George Clinton’s various Parliament/Funkadelic projects, even recording a couple of albums as the leader of a spin-off group, The Horny Horns. In 1978 he joined the Count Basie Orchestra.

He released his first jazz album as a leader, To Someone in 1988. It was followed by New Friends in 1990, Comme Ci Comme Ca in 1991, the live album Swing and Be Funky, and Amalgamation in 1994.

In the early nineties Wesley toured with his colleagues from the James Brown band, Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker, as The JB Horns. With the departure of Ellis the band became The Maceo Parker Band. Wesley was featured trombonist with Parker until 1996 when he formed his own band, The Fred Wesley Group.

In 2002 Wesley wrote Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman, an autobiography about his life as a sideman. Also in 2002 he recorded an album entitled Cuda Wuda Shuda with a group of jazz musicians calling themselves the Fred Wesley Band.

Wesley currently serves as an adjunct professor in the Jazz Studies department of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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