"Big Strong" - Fred Wesley

"Big Strong'" (PDF) from the James Brown album, Slaughter's Big Rip-Off.
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"Y'all wanna hear some blues?"  Here is the first example I have come across of Fred Wesley playing a straight-ahead twelve-bar blues.  However, for some reason this recording fades in during his solo and all we have are the last eight bars (seven and a half, really).  But because of the slow blues shuffle, we get a lot of material from Fred Wesley within the first thirty seconds of this recording.

I will admit that the 12/8 and 6/8 shuffles are still grooves that I need to work on, specifically how to syncopate the triplet.  But having that ability to feel that shuffle is the key for learning how to really swing… hard.  Check out Fred's playing on "Doing It To Death" as a good example.

So in the meantime, I will be hitting the Arban's book to work on my triplet technique and also refer back to this article by Conrad Herwig regarding doodle-tonguing.  The big thing to keep in mind is to relax the throat muscles during the quicker passages, such as the sixteenth-note triplets over the eighth-note pulse in this tune.  And the best way to relax those muscles is to have a strong stream of air to support the sound so that the throat muscles do not constrict around the tongue.  Take it slow at first and relax.

Here's a YouTube video of a brief lesson explaining part of the "across the grain" technique that Fred uses in the opening triplets.

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

Arban's Famous Method for Trombone, edited by Charles L. Randall and Simone Mantia.  Published by Carl Fischer.