Fred Wesley

Amalgamation

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Jazz purists have long argued that jazz and funk are incompatible -- that the minute you bring in funk or soul elements, you're no longer playing jazz. But that myth has been exploded time and time again by everyone from Lou Donaldson, Eddie Harris, David Sanborn, and Grover Washington, Jr. to Charles Earland, the Crusaders, and Herbie Hancock. Fred Wesley is another musician who has demonstrated how compatible jazz and funk/soul can be. In fact, the two complement one another beautifully on Amalgamation, a German release that unites the trombonist with trumpeter Hugh Ragin, saxman Karl Denson, keyboardist/organist Peter Madsen, bassist Dwayne Dolphin, and drummer Bruce Cox. Although groove-oriented accessibility is the rule on such funky jams as "Peace Power" and "No One," jazz considerations are not sacrificed. Spontaneity prevails, and there's still plenty of room for improvisation and blowing. The CD detours into Afro-Caribbean territory on the festive "My Neighborhood," while Wesley's romantic side asserts itself on Wham's "Careless Whisper." When Wesley was backing the James Brown, he had to do things Brown's way, but on this 1994 date, he maintains the driver's seat with engaging results.

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