"Damn Right I Am Somebody" - Fred Wesley

"Damn Right I Am Somebody" (PDF) from The J.B.'s album, Damn Right I Am Somebody, and compilation, Funky Good Time: The Anthology.
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Happy New Year!  I am especially happy that I finished this tune since I started working on it in November.  I was able to transcribe most of the chromatic stuff, but it took more energy than I thought it would.  And then the holidays arrived, so it went on the shelf for couple months.  But it's  a new day, a new year, and when I sat down with it again it only took me a couple hours to finish.

This is one of those tunes where it can be overwhelming at first, but once you learn what the "trick" is, or what is actually going on in the music, it doesn't take long for you to sink right into the groove.  I also remember hearing Paul Shaffer's band play this tune on The Late Show with David Letterman as it goes to a commercial break.  Watching this convinced me that it was easy enough to learn (not to imply that Mr. Shaffer's band isn't extremely talented).

Most of the melodies appear to be in the key of Dm, and I suppose that the vamp can be in the relative major key of F, but since they seem to make good use of the b3, b5 and b7 (minor pentatonic and blues scales) I put the solos in the key of F minor to reduce the number of accidentals.  And to my surprise when I sat down to finish the solos, the strict use of pentatonics contrasts all the chromaticism in the melodies.

Obviously, "Damn Right I Am Somebody" is an anthem.  So it was not difficult to find a YouTube video [expired] of The J.B.'s performing it on Soul Train.  They perform it as a medley with the tune, "All For One," and "Damn Right I Am Somebody" starting around the 2:35 mark.

Recommended Reading: Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman by Fred Wesley Jr.  Published by Duke University Press.