By Mabel Suen
By Cassie Kohler
By Evan C. Jones
By RFT Music
By RFT Music
By Tom Finkel
By Ryan Wasoba
By Roy Kasten
James Brown's Get on the Good Foot. Parliament's Mothership Connection. Living Colour's Time's Up. Prince's Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. Ani DiFranco's To the Teeth. Playlist for a radio show called Free Association? No. They're all recordings featuring the funkified saxophone of Maceo Parker.Parker began his musical career in North Carolina in the mid-1960s, playing with brothers Melvin and Kellis in a group called the Junior Blue Notes. By 1964, the 21-year-old Parker was working in the Famous Flames, playing baritone sax behind the legendary James Brown, and within a few years he had become a key member of that unit -- Brown often could be heard in concert and on recordings yelling, ³Blow, Maceo!² when he wanted his band to kick it into a higher gear.
The best time to hear Maceo Parker play sax, though, is when he's in front of his own band, where he's been for the past decade. Taking a musical approach Parker dubs ³2 percent jazz and 98 percent funk,² his sax style emphasizes hypnotic repeated riffs and recurrent themes and is rooted in blues and soul. You can get a damn good approximation on his live recording Life on Planet Groove, but you've got to check him live for the full funk effect.
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