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"School Of Funk"

The Times-Picayune

Music News

Legendary trombonist Fred Wesley is a funky mentor for Groovesect
Friday, August 15, 2008
By Keith Spera
Music writer

Trombonist Fred Wesley co-wrote two critical chapters in funk history. He was music director, arranger and a primary composer for James Brown from 1968 to 1975, then spent several years with George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic projects.

The legend's latest collaborators? Groovesect, a New Orleans instrumental funk band composed mostly of recent graduates from the Tulane and UNO jazz programs.

Wesley guests on three songs from Groovesect's 2007 debut, "On the Brim," and subsequently toured with the band. Tonight he joins Groovesect onstage at the House of Blues, part of the first-ever Cutting Edge Music Business Conference showcase at the venue.

"I like to think if Fred thought we were bad musicians, he wouldn't do it," said Groovesect bassist Eric Vogel. "The fact that Fred wants to hang out and play gigs, that means the most to us. It's an honor. He could take a gig with anybody. He's Fred Wesley, one of the fathers of funk."

Wesley returns the compliment.

"They're a young band, but a good band," the trombonist said this week from his home in South Carolina. "They work hard. They rehearse like maniacs. They're very dedicated to the music. They want to learn funky music, and I'm here to help them."

Vogel and future Groovesect guitarist Danny Abel and keyboardist Nick Krawitz first crossed paths as members of Tulane's jazz band in the early 2000s. Abel eventually transferred to UNO and met drummer Colin Davis. The foursome worked the frat party circuit as a funk band called Soda Popinski.

In 2006, they rechristened themselves Groovesect. In 2007, they added saxophonist Tim "Sully" Sullivan, an alumnus of Aretha Franklin's band who moved to New Orleans to enroll in UNO's jazz graduate program. They also recruited acclaimed New Orleans percussionist Alfred "Uganda" Roberts, whose epic résumé includes Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, 101 Runners, Deacon John and Willie Tee & the Gaturs.

The alliance with Wesley instantly elevated Groovesect's national profile. The seeds of the collaboration were sown on Feb. 2, 2007. That night, Groovesect's manager, Justin Aliperti, promoted a sold-out James Brown tribute concert at Tipitina's featuring Wesley backed by local drummer Johnny Vidacovich and bassist George Porter Jr. The members of Groovesect opened the show, and asked Wesley to sit in for one song.

"He comes out for the one song, and ends up staying for three," Vogel said. "That began the relationship. And it's been fantastic ever since."

Wesley agreed to play on those same three songs on "On the Brim." And because his own Fred Wesley Group works mostly overseas, he was keen to tour with Groovesect. Billed either as "Groovesect featuring Fred Wesley" or "Fred Wesley featuring Groovesect," they jam on Groovesect originals and James Brown classics -- a particularly mind-blowing circumstance for the young musicians.

"In middle and high school, before I was even playing music, I listened to James Brown," Vogel said. "Then when you start to play your instrument, you learn those songs. All the horn lines that you hum in your head -- never in a million years did I think I'd be playing them with the man himself.

"Fred was the bandleader. To be taking cues from the leader . . . we play what Fred wants us to play. We take Fred's cues, just as he would take them from James. It's surreal."

Wesley runs a tight ship. "He shows us no mercy," Vogel said. "You hit a wrong note, you better believe Fred hears it. He's going to turn around, take a look at you for a second and set you straight."

He also encouraged his young charges to expand their repertoire into blues.

"We'd just been focused on the grooves, intense jams, funk and jazz," Vogel said. "All of his suggestions are crucial lessons. Everything he says is golden."

And not just on the bandstand.

"Going on the road with him, learning life lessons . . . I can't even explain everything he's done for us, as far as being a role model," Vogel said. "We want to be as good as we can and have as much fun as we can. There's nobody better to take those lessons from than Fred."

Wesley's history with New Orleans predates Groovesect by five decades. Growing up in Mobile, Ala., he often made the 150-mile commute to New Orleans to jam with the likes of drummer Smokey Johnson and saxophonists Red Tyler and Nat Perrilliat.

More recently, he appeared on the 2007 compilation "Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino" alongside his former JB Horns bandmates Maceo Parker and Pee Wee Ellis, Lenny Kravitz, the Rebirth Brass Band and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews on "Whole Lotta Loving."

Post-Parliament, Wesley joined the Count Basie Orchestra and released jazz albums as a solo artist and with his Fred Wesley Group. He essentially retired from funk until, around 1990, former James Brown Band vocalist Bobby Byrd suggested he was missing out on the music's renewed popularity.

"I had no idea it would last this long and be this popular," Wesley said.

In the coming weeks, he'll tour as part of an African music tribute to Brown, followed by a long fall tour with bassist Bootsy Collins' Brown tribute. (That show comes to the House of Blues on Oct. 25.)

But in Groovesect, he's found a mutually satisfying partnership with young players who learn from him, even as they provide a fresh perspective on his own legacy.

"I'll find time for Groovesect," Wesley said, "and I'll find time to do my own thing."


GROOVESECT Featuring Fred Wesley

With: Opening acts Elliot Cohn and Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor.

When: Tonight at 9.

Where: House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 504.529.2624.

Tickets: $8.50-$18.50, plus service charges.

To hear music from Groovesect's "On the Brim" CD, go to - Times Picayune

"Concert review in Savannah GA"

AUGUST 20, 2008
Spotlighted gigs and recommended shows


Groovesect ***

It’s not every day that a bona fide musical legend makes it his business to be seen playing with an upstart band. Let alone one whose members’ average age must surely be a few decades shy of their mentor’s.

Yet, such is the case for James Brown’s former band leader Fred Wesley and rising New Orleans funk sensations Groovesect. Late this past year, the iconic trombonist —who famously served as a key soloist in some of the Godfather of Soul’s best backing groups, as well as handling the charts and arranging for many of JB’s most explosive ‘60s and ‘70s tracks— toured with this phenomenally funky soul and Afro-Cuban influenced jazz combo after guesting on their debut CD On the Brim.
Groovesect shown here backing up James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley (he will not be appearing at this Savannah gig)

Groovesect shown here backing up James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley (he will not be appearing at this Savannah gig)

Filled with wicked syncopation, slinky back beats and brass-and-percussion heavy dance fodder, that record posits this infectious group as one of the most promising bands of their kind in the country today. In fact, despite their relative youth, Groovesect’s self-described “nasty funk” (equal parts, rock, jazz and soul) is the product of veteran players who’ve been gigging in Crescent City clubs, house parties and street fests since their teens. Since Alfred “Uganda” Roberts (a living legend of N’awlins music who’s toured and recorded with Prof. Longhair, Dr. John, The Meters and Herbie Mann, among others) joined the group, they’ve been voted the #1 Funk Band and #2 Contemporary Jazz Band of 2007 in the Best of the Big Easy Awards — an impressive feat in such a talented town.


Click here for a great video of Groovesect performing live!


They usually play medium to large music venues and outdoor events like High Sierra or Voodoo Fest, and it’s incredibly rare for a group of this caliber, size and acclaim (their album hit #7 on the U.S. Jazz Charts) to appear in the corner of a small room like this subterranean bar and eatery near Ellis Square. There’s no cover, so get there early for a good view of the band. Listen & Learn: Fri., 9 pm, Jazz’d Tapas Bar. - Connect Savannah

"2007 Best of the Big Easy Awards"

Best Funk Band:
1. Groovesect
2. Papa Grows Funk
3. Bonerama

Best Contemporary Jazz Band:
1. Astral Project
2. Groovesect
3. Kermit Ruffins - Where Y'At Magazine

"Jambase feature"

Fred Wesley is the undisputed funkiest trombone player in the history of music. As longtime bandleader of James Brown's Legendary JB's Fred worked very closely writing and arranging with the Godfather of Soul and fellow bandmates Maceo Parker, Bootsy Collins, and Pee Wee Ellis. After leaving James Brown, Fred and fellow bandmates joined George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic where they continued to write and record some of the greatest songs in the history of that good ol' funk music. Fred also did a brief stint with the Count Basie Orchestra and has worked with many prominent jazz artists as well. In recent years Fred has been embraced by the next generation of funk, jazz, and blues musicians recording "West Coast Boogaloo" with Greyboy Allstars, appearing live with Gov't Mule on the Deepest End live album/DVD, and sharing stages with Soulive, John Scofield, Dr. Lonnie Smith and now... Groovesect.

Groovesect has been blazing a path through the New Orleans music scene with their jazzy soulful sound ever since the members returned to New Orleans after Katrina. Since then they have gone on to rise up through the ranks of a town known for its funk bands. Having been voted Best Funk Band in the 2007 Best of The Big Easy Awards and second best contemporary jazz group they have recently toured through the Southeast and Midwest playing Telluride Jazzfest and sharing stages with Roy Hargrove, Big Sam, Russell Batiste, and of course Fred Wesley. They also have an upcoming release produced by five time Grammy award winning jazz producer John Snyder. Groovesect has recently added the legendary New Orleans percussionist Alfred "Uganda" Roberts on congas to their already stellar lineup. Roberts has been playing in New Orleans since the 60s and was a longtime member of the Professor Longhair band. He has also played with Dr. John, Galactic, the Meters, Willie Tee, Herbie Mann, the Wild Magnolias and many more. Roberts claims he saw a spark in this young group of musicians which made him join and his old-school rhythms blend right in with their modern tones.

This event marks a special occasion, not only is the best new funk band from the world's funkiest town bringing their soulful jams to the rest of the country but they are bringing a living legend with them. After touring primarily in Europe and Asia extensively for the past few months Fred Wesley is ready to bring the funky good times back to the States! With the raw energy the boys of Groovesect bring to their music, and the soulful legacy that precedes men like Fred Wesley and Alfred "Uganda" Roberts it will be a night of music that should make both the 'Fess and the Godfather say Yeah!

Tour Dates
12.07 2007 | The Boom Boom Room | San Francisco, California
12.08 2007 | The Boom Boom Room | San Francisco, California
12.14 2007 | Stage Stop | Rollinsville, Colorado
12.15 2007 | Quixotes | Denver, Colorado
12.20 2007 | Mexicali Blues | Teaneck, New Jersey
12.21 2007 | Nectar's | Burlington, Vermont
12.22 2007 | The Lion's Den | New York City

[Published on: 12/5/07] - Jambase

"Groovesect at Vibes"

The late afternoon sun was not the only thing burning up Seaside Park, site of Gathering of the Vibes 2008. The five piece "Groovesect" with their cutting edge nac for insatiable grooves and pure funk proved just as firey.
Groovesect's musical journey, rich in elements of contemporary jazz, soul and funk infuse their set list with nonstop groove to their audience's delight. Playing tracks from their recent 2007 album, "On the Brim" ( featuring Fred Wesely, former James Brown Band leader) "Groovesect" tirelessly showcases their ability to transition from bold compositional lines to inspired improvisations.
In "Right on Red" a new composition meanders through a slower spaced, loose groove. A guitar solo eventually spirals into climax and the arrangment comes to head with a more pronounced groove, faster tempo and more insistent phrasing.
Groovesect's saxophonist switches the character of the horn section from a heavy funk baritone to a more fluid alto, accordingly. "Moving Along" with its contemporary jazz feel features flute and guitar lines in unison an interesting combination.
No need for lyrics with this band, their funkiness inspire and communicate a groove like no other. -

"Ones To Watch: Groovesect"

Ones to Watch

By Craig Cortello

A youthful funk band influenced by jazz, grounded in New Orleans rhythms, with a sound adeptly complemented by a legendary percussionist – that’s the magic formula that has fans of both New Orleans funk and jazz taking notice of Groovesect.

The band started as a 4-piece funk combo about six months after Katrina, with Nick Krawitz on keyboards, Danny Abel on guitar, Eric Vogel on bass, and Colin Davis on drums. The band later played gigs with soon-to-be-member and saxophonist Tim Sullivan. Things really started to click when the band invited Alfred “Uganda” Roberts to sit in on the congas, an open invitation that eventually led to a permanent position with the band.

I asked the elder statesman of the band to compare his experience with Professor Longhair some three decades earlier to playing with Groovesect.

“He was doing a lot of Rhythm & Blues, but it had a mambo kind of feel. Playing with Groovesect, they have the same kind of energy, funk, and things of that nature,” said Roberts. The young prodigies seem to have struck a great balance with a healthy respect for the dimension that Roberts adds to the group. All other members are in their early 20s.

Bassist Eric Vogel’s style is influenced by Victor Wooten of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, whom he met when he struck up a friendship with Victor’s brother Reggie. He played regularly with the Wooten family band while in high school in Nashville. A native New Orleanian, Vogel returned to New Orleans to study at Tulane.

Guitarist Danny Abel, from Jackson, MS, came up through the Academic and Performing Arts Complex (APAC), Jackson’s version of NOCCA. He also studied under New Orleans guitar heavyweights Hank Mackie and Steve Masakowski, and articulated the power of their influence.

“Hank has a much more direct approach – with this chord, this scale goes here,” noting that Mackie lays down a great foundation of knowledge for aspiring jazz guitarists. “When you get with Steve, he refines it, makes it more natural, more ingrained,” he added. “Coming through both of those guys was just a huge learning experience.”

Abel met drummer Colin Davis while at UNO.

Keyboard player Nick Krawitz resided in New Orleans for about seven years, and had forged friendships with band members while playing in the jazz band at Tulane. After his Katrina hiatus, he made an effort to get the funk band started and reconnected with his musical acquaintances.

Saxophonist Tim Sullivan has played with Aretha Franklin and with the Louis Armstrong quintet at UNO. He spent a considerable amount of time in Chicago, and is originally from Wisconsin. He’s been in New Orleans for about two years.

Roberts recalled the first time he heard the band prior to joining the group. He listened from outside of the club and later went inside to check them out. “I liked a lot of rhythms they were playing,” said Roberts. “When I saw just four cats on stage, I was surprised. I thought there were more people.” The band’s manager, Justin Aliperti, invited him to join the band on stage whenever he’d like, and eventually offered him the permanent position.

“It’s not every day you get a legendary percussionist in your band,” said Vogel.

The brotherhood of the New Orleans music community seems to have been a catalyst in the rather organic formation of the band.

“New Orleans is a small network. It’s just real open,” said Abel. “Everything that goes on in town has influenced us.” He indicated that during their development, the band members had an affinity for many of the staples of the New Orleans music scene, such as the Maple Leaf, Tipitina’s, Snug Harbor, and the Funky Butt.

“The music here is pretty different,” added Krawitz. “It’s pretty accessible – music for the people.”

Vogel chimed in, “There’s just so much life and music’s always a part of it. I feel like the sun is brighter down here. There’s just so much more activity and lively spirit here. And I think that really contributes to everything, but especially the music and us as musicians.”

Groovesect will play several dates beginning in December with Fred Wesley, legendary bandleader to James Brown and member of Parliament Funkadelic. Wesley played a gig with a trio that included Johnny Vidacovich and George Porter, and sat in with Groovesect, the opening band that evening.

Groovesect’s debut album On the Brim includes an appearance by Wesley on three cuts, and they hope to have production on the CD completed in time for the upcoming tour dates. It’s a credit to the band that legendary multiple Grammy award-winning producer and Loyola University professor John Snyder agreed to produce the album. Abel relayed a story from the session during the recording of the song “Space Doc” that demonstrated the masterful touch that Snyder brings to the studio.

“Originally we had a completely different arrangement for that song,” said Abel. “We were trying it in the studio – sometimes things work live and they don’t work in the studio. It just wasn’t feeling natural. He told us to pick the key that the song was in and just start playing that key.”

He continued, “We just tried to find a groove in that key. Once we found a groove we stopped. He said, ‘Now play the song with that feel that you just did.’ That’s the way we play the song now. It just works a whole lot better.”

As for Roberts’ assessment of working in the studio with his younger band mates, he says, “I just try to keep up with ‘em.”

The band will finish up the tour dates with Wesley in December, and will then likely stay close to home as festival season rolls around in the spring. The band is considering a few tour dates to locations within driving distance after the first of the year, but indicated that they plan to continue a heavy dose of Big Easy gigs, to the tune of about ten per month.

Groovesect was voted #1 funk band and #2 contemporary jazz band in the most recent Where Y’at Magazine’s “Best of the Big Easy” poll. They also shined recently at the Voodoo Festival, playing the prestigious WWOZ stage for an enthusiastic crowd.

There’s also the hope that the tour dates with Wesley will continue to open up doors for the band. And why not – ‘sect is definitely starting to find their Groove!
- Where Y'at Magazine

"Review of live radio performance with Fred Wesley and Henry Butler in All About Jazz"

New Orleans Comes to Denver: Henry Butler and Groovesect
Henry Butler - Published: December 27, 2007
By Geoff Anderson

Henry Butler and Groovesect
Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret/KUVO
Denver, Colorado
December 14-15, 2007

Snow didn’t come to New Orleans, but New Orleans came to Denver this weekend in the form of a heapin’ helpin’ of musical gumbo, jambalaya and soul-nourishing funk. Friday night, as the latest snowstorm was petering out, Henry Butler brought his New Orleans sound to a packed Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. The next afternoon, Groovesect, a young New Orleans band funked up the KUVO studio in a live broadcast during KUVO’s annual volunteer party.

Groovesect is a band of mainly twenty-something musicians from New Orleans, keeping the funk tradition and New Orleans music, in general, alive in a post-Katrina world. The band was joined Saturday afternoon by James Brown alum Fred Wesley on trombone and vocals. Wesley joins the band on several tunes on their new album On the Brim. Another notable band member is Alfred “Uganda” Roberts on congas. Roberts is a New Orleans funk veteran with a resume that includes Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, the Meters and Professor Longhair.

Groovesect mixed some of their originals with funk classics like “Chameleon,” “Pass the Peas,” “It’s a House Party” and James Brown’s “Gonna Have a Funky Good Time (Doing it to Death).” The band was scheduled to play about 30 to 40 minutes but ended up going an hour and a half. The audience members weren’t the only ones having fun. About half way through the set, Henry Butler showed up and got behind the piano. His virtuosity ratcheted up an already nearly incendiary atmosphere even higher. Butler’s blistering solos in the midst of the Groovesect funk machine opened yet another door to his musical house. To put an exclamation point on the whole thing, KUVO Blues Show host and bona fide blues man Sam Mayfield showed up with this guitar and led the band in an extended blues shuffle/solo vehicle for most of the band members.

The snow on the ground outside didn’t all quite melt during these two sets, but at least us Northern folk got to warm up with some hot music from Southern climes. - All

"Groovesect "On The Brim" Album Review"

On the Brim

“For the Love of Funk” is the phrase prominently displayed throughout the cover art of the recently released Groovesect CD On the Brim, and the 11 tracks that follow exude that affection in a resounding way. With clear jazz harmonics that stem from the training of many of the band members, it’s the rhythms clearly influenced by the Meters, Professor Longhair, and “everything New Orleans” that punctuate the band’s sound. “Tchoup it Up” is a highlight of the CD, a collaborative composition and a playful effort where the gang plays off of each other’s licks. Legendary bandleader to James Brown and member of Parliament Funkadelic, Fred Wesley appears on this and two other tracks. The tutelage of producer and multiple Grammy winner John Snyder helped finesse the band’s live performances into polished studio gems. This is a distinctive collection with vivacious performances and sophisticated melodies, with a New Orleans percussive spirit interlaced throughout. The crossover appeal of this impressive debut collection from the sophisticated jazz aficionado to the foot-stompin’ nightclubber is sure to make Groovesect a festival favorite for years to come. –Craig M. Cortello

February 2008 - Where Y'at Magazine

"Review in the Gambit Weekly"


As it hovers around a first anniversary as a band, Groovesect is riding high. To celebrate the release of On the Brim, its first full-length album, the band just completed a mini-tour with former JB Horn and Parliament Funkadelic member Fred Wesley, who lent some licks to the record. No shortage of stars in its corner, Groovesect also counts among its members the legendary New Orleans conga player and percussionist Uganda Roberts, who's played with Crescent City greats like drummer Smokey Johnson and bassist Chuck Badie. On the Brim is a stellar first effort, running over with New Orleans-style funk that gives nods to everyone from the Meters to Galactic, with plenty of the latter's surefooted experimentalism. A touch of avant jazz mellows out Groovesect's dirtier funk while launching them into the spaceways. — Fensterstock - Gambit Weekly

"Groovesect is #1"

All About Jazz
Geoff Anderson

Contributor Since: 2007
Geoff Anderson digs jazz in the Denver area, is a DJ Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 (Mountain Time) on KUVO (...

The jazz bug bit in 1976. I worked part time at the campus radio station and did the “Mostly Jazz” show from 9 to midnight several nights a week. The station had thousands of jazz albums and I was like a free range DJ, roaming freely throughout acres of vinyl.

Since 1988, I've been a volunteer DJ at Denver's KUVO (major market jazz station of the year in 2005 and 2006). My current shift is Tuesday evenings 7 to 9 (Mountain Time).

What I'm Listening To Now
Last Updated: 2008-01-20

2. Marc Sabatella Quartet; Determination
3. Wendy Fopeano; Raining on the Roses
4. Barbara Dennerline; Outhipped
5. Charlie Hunter; Mistico
6. Hope Waits
7. Galactic; From the Corner to the Block
8. Chris Potter 10; Song for Anyone
9. Herbie Hancock; River - All About Jazz


Groovesect's debut album is entitled "On the Brim", produced by 5 time Grammy winner John Snyder and featuring funk legend Fred Wesley on three cuts.

In the last week of 2007, "On the Brim" hit #7 on the national jazz listening charts.

Groovesect receives daily radio play on WWOZ New Orleans, and is played on many jazz and college radio stations around the country.

Groovesect's music can be streamed from:



Since March 2006, the members of Groovesect have blazed a trail through the streets and clubs of the New Orleans music scene, on a mission to secure their place among the musical giants of the Crescent City. Inspired by the syncopated beats and jazz rhythms of New Orleans and beyond, the guys pay homage to the greats while forging their own sound. The members of the band have diverse histories in music, which brings an eclectic edge to their playing.
Always ready to rock a crowd all night, Groovesect feeds off the energy of their fans as they jam out on a old classic or a new cutting edge original. Either way, the place will be moving. Each a skilled veteran in their craft, they push each other further and further every show while still maintaining their signature groove that is at the very heart of New Orleans music. Their blend of jazz, soul, and fusion is ceaselessly infused with the nastiness that is the essential ingredient of the true sound of New Orleans.
2009 has been a breakout year for the band, performing and creating a whole new batch of New Orleans inspired funk. The band has been charting new waters performing with special guests including Fred Wesley, Leo Nocentelli, Theryl “Houseman” Declouet, Robert Walter, Papa Mali, the Dirty Dozen Horns, Chali 2na, Topaz, and the Wild Magnolias Indians. The band’s versatility is more evident than ever as is their reputation for paving the way for a whole new generation of funk. By reaching out and performing with classic musicians (Leo Nocentelli, Fred Wesley) and then collaborating with lyrical innovators (Chali 2na), Groovesect has become an unstoppable force that manufactures what is the new standard in funk.

Groovesect’s debut album “On The Brim” was released in December of 2007 and was produced by renowned jazz producer and five-time Grammy winner John Snyder (34 nominations). The album feature Fred Wesley on 3 cuts, and hit #7 on the internet’s National Jazz Radio Charts.

In 2007, legendary percussionist Alfred “Uganda” Roberts, longtime sideman of Professor Longhair, teamed up with the band. His percussive beats helped fill up their sound, and Uganda’s presence further demonstrated the band’s ability to combine their youthful energy and innovative sounds with the roots of what inspired them.

Music critics and musicians alike have taken note of this remarkable assemblage of talent and are delighted to know that some true guardians of the groove have emerged and will carry the flame far into the future.

Listen to cuts from the album for free at:

or you can check out brand new live cuts at: