Swing & Be Funky (1993)

Fred Wesley

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Track Listing:

For the Elders {Fred Wesley}  14:11
Just Like That {Maceo Parker}  8:30
On Green Dolphin Street {Washington-Kaper, Leo Feist}  21:00
In Love In L.A. {F Wesley}  10:27
Swing & Be Funky {F Wesley}  11:06
Bop To The Boogie {F Wesley}  8:58


Producer: Stephen Meyner, Fred Wesley

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

Rating: RC: ?   MT:**


MT: Swing & Be Funky documents a live performance supporting Fred Wesley's two jazz solo albums. The disc opens up with "For The Elders", one of my favorite tracks on Fred's New Friends album. Unfortunately, this rendition is a tiresome 14 minutes long, cause everybody and their mother's uncle gets a solo. Though it has a great dynamic build up at the end of the tune I find myself wishing I had a cd with the interpretation provided by Fred with Maceo and his band when I saw them play this live in 1991 - which makes the performance here look comparatively un-inspired. Next tune is "Just Like That" which shows the weak link Fred has in his rhythm section. This Maceo tune is definitely not done justice by drummer Bruce Cox who sounds alright on the jazzier numbers, but proves here that he can barely hold a mildly funky groove if this is a significant projection of his talent. "On Green Dolphin Street" is done at a more relaxed tempo than on Comme Ci, Comme Ca. The trumpet lead sounds better than on the studio version, probably mostly cause he's playing with a mute, which is a nice touch. But the tempo makes the arranged horn lines drag - so overall I prefer the studio track. "In Love In L.A" as with the studio version, bores me - especially in the 10 minute version hear. Then the title track, seems like it might be interesting to hear with a tighter rhythm section - but I don't believe that it has appeared elsewhere. The tune is good though and features Fred's distinct writing style. But on the next track, just when I got done insulting the drummer, he comes with a decent groove on "Bop To The Boogie". This song is a funky good time, with a great vocal hook "Bop to the boogie boogie to the bop bop to the boogie bop bop". There's a pretty funky clavinet line, and both the band and the audience seem to be having more fun than on any of the other tracks on the album. The groove still doesn't quite lock in (reminds me of the JB Horns live album with the "House of Payne" rhythm section) but they sound to be having enough fun that it's still a good listen. But overall - I'd only buy this album if you're a die-hard Fred Wesley fan, you have a bunch of extraneous gift certificates, or you were completely blown away by his solo releases on Antilles. Then again, "Bop To The Boogie" is funkier than anything on either of those albums - and since it's almost 9 minutes long - you're getting more funk per minute than on either of his previous jazz albums. :)