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New Friends

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Album Review

Trombonist Fred Wesley, best-known for his long-term association with James Brown, has long expressed the desire to play jazz. This is mostly a jazz-oriented CD although he hedges his bets a little with "Honey Love" (which has a cute vocal by Wesley over a calypso groove), an R&B-ish Carmen Lundy vocal on "Love We Had Stays On My Mind," the ballad "Eyes So Beautiful" and the funky "D-Cup And Up." But on the other six numbers Wesley plays in a boppish style influenced most by J.J. Johnson and there is a suitable amount of solo space for altoist Maceo Parker (heard at his best when trying to emulate Hank Crawford), trumpeter Stanton Davis and a restrained but tasteful Geri Allen on piano. Highlights include "Rockin' In Rhythm," Thelonious Monk's "Bright Mississippi" and "Birks Works" on the mixed but generally enjoyable bag.


Born: 1944 in Mobile, AL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '90s, '10s

As the longtime musical director for soul legend James Brown's renowned backing unit the J.B.'s, trombonist Fred Wesley was the world's most famous sideman, orchestrating the sinuous grooves and contributing the bold, surgically precise solos that defined the language of funk. Born July 4, 1943, in Columbus, GA, Wesley was raised in Mobile, AL. At age three, he studied classical piano under his grandmother, a music teacher, but much preferred the big-band music played by his father, Fred Wesley,...
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