‘…I would have liked to have worked with Quincy and Stevie but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. Maybe someday it will.’
Fred Wesley Jr.
After two years away touring the rest of the globe, the original Funk trombone player, Fred Wesley and the New JB’s found themselves back on UK soil and laying down some Funky riffs at London’s Jazz Cafe. Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards caught up with the main protagonist prior to the show for a five minute update on what’s new in Mr Wesley’s musical life since we last spoke.
Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Fred Wesley (trombone) and Ernie Fields (tenor sax and flute)
The Dood: So, Fred Wesley, I believe you have a new album in the offing?
Fred Wesley: I got a new album out, it’s called, ‘With a Little Help from My Friends.’ I got all my friends together.
The Dood: Give us some names?
Fred Wesley: Well, Pee Wee Ellis, he did a turn on it; Maceo (Parker) and Dwayne Dolphin did a tune and Peter Madsen did one.
The Dood: What’s the name of the tune you did with Dwayne and Maceo?
Fred Wesley: It’s called ‘Palms Up.’ Peter Madsen did one called ‘Obamaloo’ and it’s kinda dedicated to President Obama. It’s a Boogaloo type song. My friend
Nils Langren was in town so he played on one. He’s the trombone player from Sweden. Vocalist Willi Amrod also did one tune. That’s my friend from a long time. He’s from upstate New York.
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards and Willi Amrod
My friend Ernie Fields to the left of me here did some arrangement on a tune that another friend of mine Josh Dolgin aka Socalled, a rapper and musician put together. He and David Krakauer did a thing together called Abraham Inc. And they have an album out called ‘Tweet Tweet.’ All these friends helped me to do this album. So it’s a good album and I think you’ll like it – as I said it’s called ‘With a Little Help from My Friends.’
The Dood: Is it out in the UK yet?
Fred Wesley: I know it’s out in Europe and due out here real soon.
The Dood: Give me a bit of background to saxophonist Ernie Fields Jr.?
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards with Ernie Fields Jr.
Fred Wesley: Ernie Fields is contracted to American Idol and does a lot of contracting around the Los Angeles area. But when he’s free, sometimes he comes out and plays with me. So I’m very happy to have him. He’s my old friend, a friend from years back. And he’s a good tenor player, a good flute player and he even plays bag-pipes sometimes!
The Dood: On to the rest of the band, who’s on drums this tour?
Fred Wesley: Bruce Cox is always on drums! If he don’t go I don’t go! (He Laughs!) Dwayne Dolphin my bass player and Peter Madsen is the keyboard player. Reggie Ward is the guitar player.
The Dood: Oh yes, I remember them from your last visit. Do you still have the same trumpet player?
Gary Winters (trumpet), Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards and Willi Amrod (vocals)
Fred Wesley: Gary Winters is his name. He’s on trumpet and we’re gonna have a real good show tonight.
The Dood: I’m looking forward to it. Do you intend to keep touring as long as you have breath in your lungs, or do you see yourself reverting back to studio only projects in the future?
Fred Wesley: Oh! No! No! No! There’ll be no revertin’! I’m gonna do this as long as I can. As long as my chops will last! (He Laughs!)
The Dood: Finally, taking into account the longevity of your career, are there any artists you still aspire to work with, young or old?
Fred Wesley: Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder of course. But i’m very happy with my career as it has gone. I’m fine, I’m alright. I would have liked to have worked with Quincy and Stevie but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. Maybe someday it will.
The Dood: You have never crossed each other’s paths?
Fred Wesley: We crossed paths but we never worked together. Okay, I gotta go get ready!
The Dood: Thank you for taking time out. Knock’em out!
Michael J Edwards
Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards, Fred Wesley Jr. (trombone) and Ernie Fields Jr. (tenor sax and flute)
Essential Albums: With a Little Help from My Friends (Sep 2010)
Abraham Inc – Tweet Tweet (2009)