Fred Wesley is one of the few musicians who is perfectly at ease as a jazzman and as a star of the most popular genres such as soul, funky and R&B. As a conventional jazz player, he was member of the Count Basie Orchestra, taking the part of legendary trombonist Al Gray. To tell his career as a funky musician, it is enough to say that he was a pillar of the Ike and Tina Turner band, James Brown, George Clinton, Funkadelic and Parliament. Both in jazz and funk music, he has had an intense activity as a leader, also thanks to his skills as a producer, composer and arranger. He was the music director of the famous JB Horns of the “Godfather of Soul”, that included Maceo Parker and Pee Wee Ellis. For James Brown, “happiness is Fred Wesley playing his horn”.
Born in Georgia and raised in Alabama, a son of the Deep South, blues is the basis of Wesley’s music, together with his natural ability to create an enthralling and energetic groove that has few equals. He started showing talent as a child. He was initiated into music by his grandmother who played piano, his father who was a big band leader and the juke box of the house next door that played popular songs. Then, his father told him that his orchestra was looking for a trombonist and that place could be his if he had learned to play the instrument. This is how a great career started, as told in the autobiography “Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman”.