Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker @ Musical Instrument Museum

Saxophonist Maceo Parker calls his band "the tightest little funk orchestra on Earth." It should be. Parker was schooled in tightness as the bandleader for James Brown in the 1960s. Brown was notorious for his demanding ways, but Parker, despite not being a hard-ass, still knows exactly how to keep his band focused on making every show a groovalicious party. Considered a pioneer for modern funk and hip-hop movements, Parker — weaned on the likes of David "Fathead" Newman, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, and King Curtis — was "discovered" in a South Carolina bar by Brown, there to check out Parker's drummer brother, Melvin. Melvin got the job and Brown reluctantly took Maceo along. It proved to be a good move, laying the groundwork for a genre-defining sound. Parker later stepped out on his own, further developing the heavy, horn-accentuated rhythmic pulse that's now a staple of everyone from George Clinton's P-Funk permutations to Prince to The Roots. In the 1990s, Parker's jazz roots began sneaking back into his sound, but not much. As Parker makes it clear, his music is "2 percent jazz, 98 percent funky stuff." Simple and to the point — there's nothing wrong with that!


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