Amalgamation (1994)

Fred Wesley

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Track Listing:

No One {Fred Wesley}  11:41
Peace Power {Peter Madsen, Dwayne Dolphin}  6:22
My Neighbourhood {Alfred Ellis}  4:47
Careless Whisper {George Michael, Andrew Ridgeley}  7:24
Herbal Turkey Breast {Karl Denson}  6:26
The Next Thing I Knew {EB Coleman}  5:09
Trick Bag {E King}  4:44
Soft Soul And All That Jazz {Hugh Ragin}  6:18


Producer: Stephan Meyner, Fred Wesley
Vocals: Fred Wesley, Hugh Ragin, Karl Denson
Trombone: Fred Wesley
Trumpet, Fluegelhorn: Hugh Ragin
Tenor, Soprano, Alto Saxophones: Karl Denson
Piano, Organ, Keyboards: Peter Madsen
Acoustic & Electric Bass: Dwayne Dolphin
Drums: Bruce Cox

Rating: RC: ***1/2


RC: Unlike most of Fred Wesley's albums, this one has more of a funky feel to it, and less of a jazz presence. The album's title, Amalgamation, suggests a wide range of styles here, and it shows. Working with the usual Minor Music musicians, Fred creates a lot of fun. The album kicks off with the long jazzy piece "No One" featuring a number of Fred solos and solid bass from Dwayne Dolphin, as well as a number of solos from the other band members. It serves as a good introduction and stretching-out piece for the album. "Peace Power" showcases Dolphin once again, who this time gets funky. It's an upbeat number that features a number of classic funk elements: driving keyboards, hiccuping horns, etc. It segues into more traditional jazz modes and back into the upbeat funk segments. "My Neighbourhood" is an almost Latin-sounding tune that is very upbeat and happy, showcasing the horns above all else. "Careless Whisper" is the old Wham! tune that was a big hit in the 80's. In the jazz tradition of reinterpreting pop tunes, Fred & company try to take on this piece of schmaltz, but the only thing they really get is more schmaltz. "Herbal Turkey Breast" is a JB Horns-style uptempo funk number, heavy on organ and horn riffs, in addition to the usual horn solos. "The Next Thing I Knew" is another more jazz-oriented number, with minimal rhythmic variations and lots of soloing. "Trick Bag" is a fun cover of the old Meters favorite, the only song featuring vocals. While not quite as funky as the original, Fred's trombone solo is a definite highlight. "Soft Soul..." is another funky number, once again done in a JB Horns style. The driving keyboard matches up well against the acoustic bass and the deliberately clashing horn solos.

All-in-all, this is album is the closest thing to funk that Fred Wesley has done as a solo artist. While the jazz elements are also quite strong here, they blend in well with a number of upbeat and rhythmically-oriented numbers. The album is in print though it might be hard to find.