"Ain't It Funky Now (Live)" - Fred Wesley

"Ain't It Funky Now (Live)" (PDF) from the James Brown & The J.B.'s album, Love Power Peace: Live at the Olympia, Paris, 1971.
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Many of these live recordings were eventually released decades after they were recorded, but it is interesting to compare them to their studio counterparts from the same era.  While the live show was always on tour, it appears that the band went into the studio only when it had stumbled on to a new sound.  This sense of exploration developed from the ever-changing stage show, and it is incredible how different tours produce a different sounding band.

For instance, on this album the groove never stops, the horns are constantly riffing, and there are fewer horn solos as the key members of The J.B.s have left the band.  Even Bobby Byrd keeps up the endless supply of "Get on up" calls throughout the grooves as if he is the only other person in the band.  If there is one thing that this band has proven it is that it powers through the lineup changes and continues to drive the show forward.

"Ain't It Funky Now" appears early in the set, and based on the studio version, I can only assume that Mr. Wesley may have been caught off guard when Brown shouted out his name to play a solo.  It does not sound like a Fred Wesley groove, but when the boss says, "Jump," you say, "How high?"  Although his phrasing struggles to find the sense of call and response of his trademark solos, Wesley's use of constant sixteenth-notes allows him to mix and match the syncopated rhythms until something fits in the groove.

Here is a YouTube video [expired] of this tune, recorded from the same series of shows as this version.  Fred Wesley's solo is different, which implies that his soloing on this tune was indeed part of the routine.  So, I guess you can disregard everything I wrote earlier about being caught off guard.  The joke's on me!

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