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SU presents public lecture and performance by legendary funk and jazz trombonist Fred Wesley Jr. March 30
SU presents public lecture and performance by legendary funk and jazz trombonist Fred Wesley Jr. March 30March 14, 2007Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University will present a public lecture and performance by legendary funk and jazz trombonist Fred Wesley Jr. on Friday, March 30. His lecture, “My Life in the Music Business,” will take place at 2 p.m. in Room 107 of the Hall of Languages. Parking is available in all SU pay lots. The concert performance is at 8 p.m. at Funk `n Waffles, 727 S. Crouse Ave. (Campus Plaza, behind Marshall Square Mall). Both events are free and open to the public.
This visit marks Wesley’s Syracuse solo debut. Best known for his work with now-departed “Godfather of Soul” James Brown, Wesley has built a career in funk and jazz. From 1968-75, he was music director, arranger, trombonist and primary composer for Brown’s band, helping create a funky sound that can now be heard in much of today’s popular music.
In fall 2005, Brown told The Commission Project’s (TCP) Swing `n News newsletter: “Fred Wesley is a decent hard worker. I love him like a son or a younger brother. He is a great trombone player and has a long way to go. So I say, `keep on doing it.'” Wesley donates his time and talent to TCP, a Rochester-based nonprofit music education organization.
In 1975, Wesley took funk to a new level, joining forces with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. In 1978, he became a member of the Count Basie Orchestra and realized his jazz aspirations; he first studied jazz growing up in Mobile, Ala. During the early 1990s, Wesley toured with Brown Band colleagues Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker as the JB Horns. The band later became the Maceo Parker Band, with Wesley as featured trombonist. Wesley later formed his own band, The Fred Wesley Group, which still tours today.
As a recording artist, Wesley has released the albums “To Someone,” “New Friends,” “Comme Ci Comme Ca,” “Swing and Be Funky,” “Amalgamation” and “Full Circle (Be Bop to Hip Hop).” Over his 40-year career, he has played with, produced and arranged for a variety of musical artists, including Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, SU alumna Vanessa Williams, Cameo and De La Soul. Scores of other artists have sampled his work, including Janet Jackson on her hit “That’s The Way Love Goes” and rapper Nas on “Nastradamus.”
Wesley now spends much of his time writing. In 2002, he completed his autobiography, “Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman” (Duke University Press, 2002).
“From a historical standpoint, Wesley’s autobiography is one of the most important music memoirs to appear within the past decade. It is candid, entertaining and filled with Fred’s priceless insights into the creative process. His commentary constantly reminds one of the social interactions that guide the art of making music,” says Theo Cateforis, assistant professor of music history and cultures in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences and editor of the newly released “The Rock History Reader” (Routledge, 2006) rock music anthology, which includes a selection from Wesley’s autobiography.
Today, Wesley is a performer, arranger, producer and consultant who gives workshops, clinics and lectures on jazz and funk. He writes liner notes, essays and other articles, and has an ongoing relationship with “American Idol,” the annual Grammy Awards and “Saturday Night Live,” for which he plays and sometimes arranges.
Wesley’s visit is sponsored by The College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Fine Arts and the Soling Program, with assistance from the Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation.
For more information, contact Rob Enslin in The College of Arts and Sciences at (315) 443-3403.