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Fred Wesley & the Greyboy Allstars

Trombonist Fred Wesley would like to be known for more than just funk and soul. Since the late ’90s, straight-ahead jazz has been the focus of his Fred Wesley Group. “But trying to get back to jazz has been a problem,” he says. “People want to hear the funk, but I found out I can do both.”

You can’t blame his fans. For decades, Wesley was the powerhouse in James Brown’s J.B.s and later in Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton’s band. Which one challenged him the most creatively? “That’s a good question,” he says by phone. He thinks it over for a minute. “James did. He was the ultimate challenge for a side man. He came up with the wildest ideas in the world, and I had to put them in force.” But the J.B.s influenced Clinton as well. “George told me to do whatever I wanted to — just make it good. Give up the funk. That was George’s thing. And it had to be good funk.”

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Fred Wesley was born in Georgia in 1943. From the start, he aspired to play real jazz. “I didn’t even know who James Brown was. I joined his band just to get to New York and be discovered as a great trombone player.” He also wrote music with Brown and has in recent years heard more than a few of his riffs sampled by rappers. “I didn’t see that coming. At first, I frowned on it. Why can’t these guys make their own music? Then I got the first royalty check, and I thought, Whoa. These guys can sample all they want.”

In San Diego, Wesley will appear as a member of the Greyboy Allstars. They recorded West Coast Boogaloo together in 1995. He says Greyboy was the beginning of the jam-band sound (a group that plays a variety of genres). No jazz here: “You’ll hear some real funky music.”

FRED WESLEY: Belly Up Tavern, Friday, December 30, 9 p.m. 858-481-8140. $30.

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Trombonist Fred Wesley would like to be known for more than just funk and soul. Since the late ’90s, straight-ahead jazz has been the focus of his Fred Wesley Group. “But trying to get back to jazz has been a problem,” he says. “People want to hear the funk, but I found out I can do both.”

You can’t blame his fans. For decades, Wesley was the powerhouse in James Brown’s J.B.s and later in Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton’s band. Which one challenged him the most creatively? “That’s a good question,” he says by phone. He thinks it over for a minute. “James did. He was the ultimate challenge for a side man. He came up with the wildest ideas in the world, and I had to put them in force.” But the J.B.s influenced Clinton as well. “George told me to do whatever I wanted to — just make it good. Give up the funk. That was George’s thing. And it had to be good funk.”

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Fred Wesley was born in Georgia in 1943. From the start, he aspired to play real jazz. “I didn’t even know who James Brown was. I joined his band just to get to New York and be discovered as a great trombone player.” He also wrote music with Brown and has in recent years heard more than a few of his riffs sampled by rappers. “I didn’t see that coming. At first, I frowned on it. Why can’t these guys make their own music? Then I got the first royalty check, and I thought, Whoa. These guys can sample all they want.”

In San Diego, Wesley will appear as a member of the Greyboy Allstars. They recorded West Coast Boogaloo together in 1995. He says Greyboy was the beginning of the jam-band sound (a group that plays a variety of genres). No jazz here: “You’ll hear some real funky music.”

FRED WESLEY: Belly Up Tavern, Friday, December 30, 9 p.m. 858-481-8140. $30.

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