Of all the graduates of the various James Brown bands, my guess is that Fred Wesley has been the most pro-active in pursuing a career beyond Brown. He's worked all over the place and with all kinds of artists; he's collaborated / guested on dozens of varied recordings and cut a slew of his own solo sets. He gigs regularly and seems to have found a semi-permanent home in Europe where he's become an almost ever-present on the flourishing festival scene. Indeed this new LP was recorded in Europe ... Germany to be precise. The title has nothing to do with the Beatles by the way; its provenance is down to the friends and family who encouraged the recording and worked on it with him.
Guest-in-chief is Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren. His main contribution is on the tune that defines the album's overall sound - 'Swedish Funkballs'. It's a pleasing, brassy roller that might remind you of Wayne Henderson-era Crusaders - not quite funky, not quite smooth jazz... but with its own discrete charm and certainly tastier than IKEA's meatballs, at which, I'm sure the tune is cocking a snook. There's more of the same sound on 'Spring Like' and the slinky 'Beautiful'. Variety comes in the shape of two semi-spoken pieces - 'Ashes To Ashes' (inspired by last year's ash cloud debacle) and the tale of life on the road - 'Everywhere Is Out Of Town'. Funkiest cut is 'Homeboy' - hardly surprising since it's an old Maceo tune, while 'Obamaloo' is a musical tribute to you know who. In the notes Fred chooses 'Palm's Up' as his favourite track and I'm inclined to agree. It's a lovely mid-tempo groove with a hint of Latin about it and some fine piano from Peter Madsen. It really works, which is more than can be said for the ambitious closer - 'Peace Fugue'. Here Fred's mellifluous trombone is quiet at odds with the rocky guitar of Reginald Ward. But it's still a Wesley horn and good to hear the great man's son, Victor, on trombone too... he's a lot to live up to!
All Music Guide