Legendary Bandleader & Trombonist Fred Wesley Serves as Artist in Residence at Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp

By Alex Const 


The Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp will welcome legendary bandleader, trombonist and author Fred Wesley as their 2024 Artist-In-Residence at a press conference Monday, July 8 at 10 a.m. at Loyola University’s Communications and Music Complex, 6301 St. Charles Avenue. Joining camp co-founder and executive director Jackie Harris will be City Council Vice President J.P. Morrell and Councilmember Oliver Thomas along with the camp’s students and faculty members led by Artistic Director Donald Harrison, an NEA Jazz Master.  

In addition to introducing Wesley, officials will also discuss the camp’s annual fundraiser which will be held at the George & Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, 1225 N. Rampart Street on Wednesday, July 10 and the free culminating student performance Friday, July 14 at Loyola University.   

One of the forefathers of funk, Wesley is still setting the standards with his jazz-funk band, The New JBs. Together at its core for more than 30 years, the band is a living celebration of roots, funk and more, performing such hits as “Pass the Peas” made with James Brown and the JBs including Maceo Parker, as well as selections from the P-Funk years as well as Wesley’s own and others’ soulful jazz, funk and blues compositions.

Born in Columbus, Georgia and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Wesley began his career as a teenage trombonist with Ike and Tina Turner. He later was music director, arranger, trombonist and a primary composer for Brown from 1968-1975, then arranged for and played with Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band.

With Brown, Wesley became “the world’s most famous sideman, orchestrating the sinuous grooves and contributing the bold, surgically precise solos that defined the language of funk.” He helped take funk to the next level with George Clinton and Bootsy Colins. Wesley recorded a dozen solo albums including the cult favorite “House Party,” and his latest “From the Blues and Back,” which was recently released. He is featured in the Oscar-winning documentary “When We Were Kings” and countless other documentaries and books about funk. Wesley gives master classes around the world.

His critically acclaimed memoir “Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Side Man (Duke University Press, 2002) chronicles in hilarious stories a half century of music history through the eyes of one of the world’s most sampled musicians. A veteran of the Count Basie Orchestra, Wesley has worked with scores of other artists, from Ray Charles to Trombone Shorty. His current other projects include the jazz organ trio Generations and the klezmer-funk-hip hop unit Abraham Incorporated.

Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp provides a unique opportunity for aspiring student musicians to study with world class professionals, according to Harris who also heads the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. Throughout the decades more than 2500 students have attended the camp including Jon Batiste, Troy “Trombone” Shorty, Dr. Courtney Bryan, Chief Atunde Adjuah (formerly known as Christian Scott), Big Sam, Shamarr Allen, John Michael Bradford and many others. Students must be between 10 and 21 years of age and must audition to participate in the camp. An alumni band with special guests performed the New Orleans azz and Heritage Festival this year. 

Jazz camp faculty members include Donald Harrison, saxophone; BlaqNmilD, hip hop; Darrell Lavigne, piano; Dwight Fitch, piano; Brian Quezergue, electric bass; Chris Severin, upright bass; Jonathan Bloom, percussions; Herman Lebeau, drums; Don Vappie, guitar; Roderick Paulin, saxophone; Marlon Jordan, trumpet; Andrew Baham, trumpet; Breonna Jordan, swing dance; Kelly Dixon and Norman Dixon Jr., second line dance and Stephanie Jordan, vocals. 

The late Sir Edward “Kidd” Jordan was one of the camp’s co-founders and later Artistic Director Emeritus. Three decades ago, Jordan co-founded the camp with Jackie Harris who at the time served as Executive Director of the Music and Entertainment Commission of New Orleans as part of Mayor Marc Morial’s administration. The New Orleans Arts and Cultural Host Committee assumed the responsibility of presenting and raising money for the program.  

On Wednesday, July 10 at 8 p.m., the camp’s faculty along with pianist Davell Crawford will perform a fundraising concert at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, 1225 N. Rampart Street. Tickets for the concert are $50. The concert will be preceded by a Patron Party at the Wein Center beginning at 6 p.m. The Patron Party will include an extensive buffet by Pamela Pierre Brown, Gourmet Sacred Soul Food Therapy. Le Bouchon Wineshop is providing a trio of wines that have been especially paired with the menu. A talented quartet of aspiring musicians will provide the sounds. Tickets to the Patron Party (which includes a concert ticket) are $175.   To purchase tickets for the Patron Party or the concert, log onto LouisArmstrongConcertReceptionTickets.Eventbrite.com

All the camp’s 2024 students will perform in a free culminating concert Friday, July 12 at 8 p.m. in the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall at Loyola University, 6301 St. Charles Avenue.

The Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp is sponsored by the New Orleans Arts and Cultural Host Committee, The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Hon. Freddie King III, New Orleans City Council, ASCAP Foundation, Gia Malone Prima Foundation, Goldring Family Foundation, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Hon. Eugene Green, Jr., Arts New Orleans, Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, Ruth Fertel Foundation, Kent and Christine Jordan, Dr. Christoper Marrero, Preservation Hall Foundation, Dan Hydar, Newburns, Mark & Kara Samuels, Carol Balthazar Scholarship sponsored by Michele A. Brierre, Carol Balthazar Scholarship sponsored by Tina Balthazar, Newell Usdin Fund, Thomas Rieke, New Orleans Airlift, Marlin and Renee Gusman, Dr. Michael White, and Dr. Ned Shimizu, HomeBase.

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