"Escape-Ism" - Fred Wesley

"Escape-Ism'" (PDF) from the James Brown album, Hot Pants.
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Buried within this nineteen-minute track is an underrated Fred Wesley trombone solo.  The complete take was edited down to "Part 1" and "Part 2," although Fred's solo was left on the cutting room floor.  It appears that the sole purpose behind the recording was for Brown to rap about "escapism" and then to document the band's inside jokes, such as Fred's own "L.A." joke and Brown's "Doin' Your Doodle" mock chant.

These lighthearted moments suggest that the tune itself doesn't have much substance.  In fact, after only three minutes into the recording Fred, the bandleader, suggests to "take it on the lam," or to flee the premises.  But instead, Brown takes the time to go through his witty responses to what anyone should say, he plays a couple organ solos, and more-or-less meanders until the tape runs out.  After thirteen minutes, Fred is called upon to play a somewhat reluctant trombone solo.  And yet, Wesley steps up to the plate and hits another home run.

The brilliance of this solo is its phrasing, in which he simply calls and responds to himself.  If you were to strip away the rest of the band and replace it with a metronome, Fred's playing would be just as funky and communicative.  This solo does not rely on anyone else to make a statement.  It becomes obvious a few times during the solo that the band is listening to Fred's gospel call as they respond verbally with an "Yeah!," so much that Brown has to put a stop to it by claiming that no one played behind his solos.  Perhaps it is a trombone solo that is too funky for even James Brown.

For a change of scenery, I have stumbled upon a YouTube video [expired] of Fred Wesley playing at a jazz festival.  Notice how his tone is just as powerful, yet flexible, in this type of setting.  The performance has been split into multiple parts.

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