Jul 26, 2014

RhoDeo 1429 Grooves


These weeks it's all about "Soul Brother Number One," "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite" -- those are mighty titles, but no one can question that today's artist earned them more than any other performer. James was a guy who had self motivation written all over his back and front. And it came out of every pore of his music. The J.B.'s were the legendary supporting cast of musicians behind James Brown, earning a well-deserved reputation as the tightest, best-drilled instrumental ensemble in all of funk. The name J.B.'s is most often associated with three hornmen in particular -- saxophonists Maceo Parker, Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, and trombonist Fred Wesley. One of the key sonic architects of funk, Maceo Parker first became a legend for his work with James Brown, whose impassioned shouts for a sax solo ("Maceo! Blow your horn!") would make Parker the Godfather of Soul's most famous sideman, though Parker would continue to enjoy a successful career long after leaving Brown's employ. ......N'joy

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One of the key sonic architects of funk, Maceo Parker first became a legend for his work with James Brown, whose impassioned shouts for a sax solo ("Maceo! Blow your horn!") would make Parker the Godfather of Soul's most famous sideman, though Parker would continue to enjoy a successful career long after leaving Brown's employ.

Maceo Parker was born on February 14, 1943 in Kinston, North Carolina. Parker's mother and father both had an appreciation for music and sang in their church's choir, but it was his uncle who had the strongest influence on the youngster's musical development. Parker's uncle led a local jazz and R&B band called the Blue Notes, and Maceo would sometime watch them rehearse; in time, Maceo would take up the saxophone, while his brothers Melvin and Kellis respectively learned to play the drums and trombone. Their uncle was impressed enough with the youngsters' abilities that he dubbed them "the Junior Blue Notes" and had them perform between sets at Blue Notes shows. The Parker brothers were seasoned professionals by the time they enrolled at North Carolina A&T, where they studied music. In 1963, Melvin Parker had graduated and was offered an audition with James Brown, who was looking for a new drummer; Melvin landed the gig, and when he asked if Brown could use a new sax player as well, Maceo was also offered a spot in the band.

Originally playing baritone sax, Maceo eventually switched over to tenor, and his style on the instrument was ideal for the band -- rich, rhythmic, and full of sharp, staccato lines that meshed with Brown's taut and funky sound. After lending an inspired solo to Brown's 1965 smash "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," Maceo became of the key members of Brown's recording and touring band, and his solos were an integral part of some of Brown's best-known songs, including "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Mother Popcorn," "Sex Machine," and "Cold Sweat." However, Brown's well-documented reluctance to part with a dollar and firm hand over his sidemen led most of Brown's band to quit en masse in 1970; Maceo was one of the musicians who walked, and he soon formed his own group, Maceo & All the King's Men, with his brother Melvin on drums. Maceo & All the King's Men had released an album by the year was out, titled Doin' Their Own Thing, but despite the strength of their live show, they didn't fare as well as they had hoped commercially. In 1973, Maceo rejoined Brown's touring band, though he found time to cut a solo album, Us, in 1974. The following year saw another revolt sweep through the ranks of Brown's group, and Maceo, trombonist Fred Wesley, and bassist Bootsy Collins all jumped ship to work with George Clinton's various projects, including Parliament and Funkadelic.

By 1984, Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic empire was in tatters, and Maceo signed back on with James Brown for another four years, though he appeared as a guest on several of Clinton's solo albums from this period, and when Clinton produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers' sophomore album, Freaky Styley, Maceo stopped by to contribute some trademark sax solos. In 1988, Keith Richards invited Maceo to perform on his debut solo album, Talk Is Cheap, and as hip-hop acts began recycling James Brown's potent grooves, Parker found himself in demand with contemporary acts such as Deee-Lite, Living Colour, and Material, all of whom brought him in to play on their sessions.

In 1990, Maceo Parker stepped out as a solo act, releasing a jazz-oriented album called Roots Revisited through Verve Records and hitting the road in support. With funk back in fashion, Parker found he had a ready audience for his new music, and another jazz-flavored set, Mo' Roots, appeared in 1991. Parker upped the funk factor on the 1992 live set Life on Planet Groove, which featured fellow James Brown alumni Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis, and it documented the powerful show Maceo and his band were playing up to 150 nights a year. Through the 1990s, Parker released a steady stream of solo records and made guest appearances on albums by De La Soul and Brooklyn Funk Essentials, as well as less likely collaborations with 10,000 Maniacs and Bryan Ferry. In 1999, noted funk enthusiast Prince recruited Maceo to play on his album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, and he would be a regular contributor to Prince's studio projects over the next decade, as well as performing with his live ensemble. Alternative folk diva Ani DiFranco also persuaded Maceo to sit in with her, with the sax man contributing to the albums To the Teeth and Reveling: Reckoning. And in 1998, Maceo and his band were the opening act on a concert tour by the Dave Matthews Band; Maceo would often join in with the headliners, and one of the shows from that tour was belatedly released in 2001 as Live in Chicago 12.19.98 at the United Center.

In 2004, Parker's impressive live show was documented on film for the documentary My First Name Is Maceo, which featured interviews with Maceo discussing his life and music along with extensive footage of him and his group in full flight. In 2007, Parker performed a series of concerts in Europe with the German ensemble the WDR Big Band; highlights from the tour appeared on the album Roots & Grooves, including a set of tunes made famous by Ray Charles, one of Parker's early influences. And Parker paid homage to a handful of other R&B greats on another collaboration with the WDR Big Band, 2012's Soul Classics, with Maceo putting his stamp on classic numbers by Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, and his former employer James Brown.

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Maceo Parker, best-known for his R&B recordings with and without James Brown, plays strictly jazz on his Novus CD and he is in peak form. Parker's alto sounds close to Hank Crawford at times but with a phrasing of his own. On this well-rounded and consistently memorable release, Parker sticks mostly to funky blues but is also impressive on a boppish version of "The Way You Look Tonight." He splits his time between fronting an organ combo, leading a reunion with fellow Brown alumni trombonist Fred Wesley and tenor-saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, and on two songs he is joined by the enthuisastic Rebirth Brass Band. Parker only takes one vocal so the emphasis throughout is on his soulful alto, making this among his most rewarding jazz recordings.

Maceo Parker - Southern Exposure  (flac 367mb)

01 Blues For Shorty Bill 6:46
02 Keep On Marching 6:31
03 Mercy, Mercy, Mercy 6:28
04 Every Saturday Night 5:18
05 The Way You Look Tonight 6:11
06 Splashin' 7:00
07 Walking Home Together 4:57
08 Sister Sanctified 6:39
09 Fun In The Sun 5:50

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Regrettably, Maceo's studios albums, even by turning up the volume, do not almost retranscribe the masterful slap which imposes us Jamal Thomas in his cymbals, nor the demonic humming of the riff of bass, and the sax tenor of Maceo seems to fight alone in the middle of the desert. Experimental space-time, Maceo Soundtrack, recorded in Hamburg in 1994 comes under a serious mastery of funk. A solid groove, a homogeneous sound material, a complicity between artists which works in the perfection: Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Elis are beside the guitarist Bruno Speight, the bass player Jerry Preston, the drummer Jamal Thomas and Will Boulware in the organ Hammond B3. This album is also marked by George Clinton's seal invited on "C Jam Funk". Psychedelic, intoxicating and captivating atmosphere. Vocal improvisation and dancing riff. Musical moments happening. Musical beaches which all run , with the exception of two (" Knock we wood " and " song New "), more than 7 minutes. The great classics of soul are interpreted and transcended by a musical material which frees itself from words whereas the voices of James Brown and Aretha Franklin resound in us on "Cold Sweat" and " Doh right woman, doh right man ". "Chameleon", composition of Herbie Hancock and David Rubinson who opens the album Head Hunters (Columbia, on 1973), is interpreted here brilliantly. The subject is enriched, harmonized and accompanied by counterpoints, the brass section alternates riffs and solos. Shaped by James Brown and George Clinton, Maceo Parker and his accomplices became confirmed artists who assert here their own musical identity. Make it Funcky!

Maceo Parker - Soundtrack (Live in Hamburg)  (flac 466mb)

01 Cold Sweat 9:07
02 Knock On Wood 4:27
03 New Moon 7:24
04 House Party 7:37
05 New Song 5:11
06 Do Right Woman Do Right Man 4:25
07 Chameleon 10:39
08 Make It Funky - Funky Good Time - There Was A Time 15:01
09 C Jam Funk 11:50

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Having steered the mothership and worked as a triggerman for the Godfather of Soul, storied sax man Maceo Parker now brings his own tight rhythm and soul sound to vinyl (er, plastic) in undeniable proof that he's still "got it." Combining his smoking horn with the backing of fellow legends such as trombonist Fred Wesley and new bloods such as son Corey (whose intermittent raps colorfully enhance the album's youthful vibrance), Maceo works through the familiar funk and soul lines of his Parliament and JB days and adds new twists to such classics as Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and "Inner City Blues," Stevie Wonder's "Tell Me Something Good," and Sly Stone's "Sing a Simple Song," while offering a number of his own well-orchestrated and well-seasoned compositions. "Youth of the World" features Maceo on a lead vocal reminiscent of Kool Moe Dee or Kurtis Blow, while "Do You Love Me" rises like Tower of Power before the sultry Chicago lines of closer "Going in Circles." Though Maceo's original lyrical attempts may be a bit immature, his years of experience and hard work shine through with every brassy attack and smooth soul note.

Maceo Parker - Funk Overload  (flac 333mb)

01 Maceo's Groove 5:24
02 Uptown Up 4:16
03 Sing A Simple Song 3:38
04 Tell Me Something Good 3:40
05 Elephant's Foot 4:19
06 Let's Get It On 3:49
07 Youth Of The World 3:36
08 We're On The Move 4:13
09 Inner City Blues 4:23
10 Going In Circles 6:53
11 Do You Love Me 3:58

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Rho,

Please could you re-up these Maceo Parker albums.