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Funk Saxophone Legend
- Monday, Jun 16, 2014
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Maceo Parker Media
“preeminent, modern-day torchbearer of [James] Brown’s iconic R&B style….driving, rhythmically prescise grove” – Pioneer Press
About Maceo Parker
Maceo Parker: his name is synonymous with Funk, his pedigree impeccable; his band, the tightest little funk orchestra on earth.
Maceo has played with each and every funk pioneer, from his start with James Brown, to jumping aboard the Mothership with George Clinton, to his ongoing part in Prince’s tours. He’s the living, breathing pulse that connects the history of Funk in one golden thread, the cipher that unravels dance music down to its core.
“Everything’s coming up Maceo,” claimed DownBeat Magazine in 1991. At the time Parker was still thought of as a sideman, appreciated mainly by those in the know. Maceo has since enjoyed a blistering solo career, building a funk empire that is fresh and stylistically diverse, navigating deftly between James Brown’s 1960’s soul and George Clinton’s 1970’s freaky funk, while exploring jazz and hip-hop grooves. He has collaborated with Ray Charles, Ani DiFranco, James Taylor, De La Soul, Dave Matthews Band and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and his timeless sound has garnered him a fresh young fan base.
It is almost impossible to determine which came first, Maceo or Funk. Parker has been at it with his legendary sound since the ‘60’s, when he and his drummer brother Melvin climbed aboard the James Brown funky soul train. Most musicologists recognize this group of men from Brown’s band as the early pioneers of modern funk and hip-hop.
Maceo grew to become the lynchpin of the James Brown enclave for the best part of two decades. His signature style helped define James’ brand of funk, and the phrase: “Maceo, I want you to blow!” became iconic. He’s still one of the most emulated and sampled musicians around simply because of the unique quality of his sound.
In 1970 Parker formed Maceo and All the King’s Men with some fellow JB band mates (the two albums from this period are on a constant reissue cycle even some thirty years later.)
In the mid ’70’s Maceo hooked up with George Clinton and the various incarnations of Funkadelic, Parliament and Bootsy Collins, working with these figureheads of funk at the height of their success. From the breathtaking shows of James Brown to the landing of the Mothership, Maceo has been there, amidst some of the pivotal moments in musical history, delivering his sound as a constant point of reference.
Since 1990 Parker has focused on his own projects, starting with Roots Revisited, which spent 10 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Jazz Charts, and Mo’ Roots (1991). But it was his next album, the groundbreaking Life on Planet Groove, recorded live in 1992, that became his calling card, boosting Maceo’s solo career with the college audience, and coining his catch phrase “2% Jazz, 98% Funky Stuff.”
Maceo’s albums Funk Overload, Dial M-A-C-E-O and Made by Maceo entered the European charts’ Top 40 upon release. Dial M-A-C-E-O featured appearances by Ani DiFranco, Prince, and James Taylor.
In 2003, after several years as bandleader for the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, Maceo received the Pioneer Award from the Foundation for his contribution to the R&B genre.
2007 saw Maceo fulfill one of his dreams: working with a big band. With Grammy Award winners The WDR Big Band from Cologne, Germany, he broadcast and performed a series of live shows in tribute to Ray Charles, and released live recordings of these shows, Roots and Grooves, to enormous critical acclaim. His Soul Classics (2012) received universal praise.
In July of 2012 Maceo was presented with Les Victoires du Jazz in Paris, a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to music. The same weekend he received the Icon Award at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“He’s no bebopper, reborn or otherwise. His roots are the church and the blues… his sound is joyful, cutting ribbon of light and heat burnished by grit and soul… There’s only one Maceo.” – Gene Santoro, Downbeat Magazine
“When people talk about legends they mean ‘they’re done, but boy did they do good’ . When I think of Maceo Parker I think of legendary funk master and horn player, but not ‘legend’ in the term that he’s done. He’s still doing it. And that to me makes a really legendary person” – Ani DiFranco
“The audience singing and swaying like trees in a hurricane… Maceo is in the House…blowing a tempest.” – Seattle Times