"Make It Funky (Live)" - Fred Wesley
In 1971, the James Brown hit factory was a well-oiled machine. Instead of staging the large productions of a touring act, the band had instead settled into an efficient studio work-flow in which Brown's ideas could be easily realized by his bandleader, Fred Wesley. The success of their collaborative efforts was built upon the spontaneous, light-hearted events that were captured in the moment.
But when the time came to take it on the road, the band knew that the live show could not recreate the same kind of magic that occurred within the studio; an inside joke does not translate to a thousand people as well as it does within a band of eight. And so the band simply went with what already worked, the material on the record that was already familiar to the audience. Give the people what they want!
Fred Wesley's solo on this live recording of "Make It Funky" is nothing new, and yet it still showcases the brilliance behind his trombone playing. Perhaps Wesley's focus at this time was more towards the responsibilities of being the bandleader rather than in the practice room, developing his trombone playing, forcing him to rely on repetitive solos during the live shows. But he was able to somehow find those musical phrases and figures that made the people say, "Yeah!" Fred Wesley playing during this legendary period speaks The Truth, and that is what the people want: the gospel.
Here is a YouTube video of the JB Horns playing this tune, including a solo from Fred Wesley and a dance lesson, taboot.
Recommended Reading: Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman by Fred Wesley Jr. Published by Duke University Press.
Musician's Yoga: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Inspiration by Mia Olson. Published by Berklee Press.