Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker – saxophone, composer, recording artist, bandleader

His name is synonymous with Funk Music, his pedigree impeccable; his band: the tightest little funk orchestra on earth. Maceo Parker is known by aficionados as a James Brown sideman; appreciated mainly by those in the know. More than a decade and a half later Maceo Parker has been enjoying a blistering solo career. He navigates deftly between ‘60’s scoul and ‘70’s freaky funk while exploring mellower jazz and the grooves of hip-hop.

Maceo Parker was born and raised in Kinston, North Carolina. His uncle, who headed local band the Blue Notes, was Maceo’s first musical mentor. Maceo grew up admiring saxophonists such as David “Fathead” Newman, Hank Crawford, Cannonball Adderley and King Curtis.”I was crazy about Ray Charles, his band, and particularly the horn players”. The three Parker brothers formed the Junior Blue Notes. When Maceo reached the sixth grade, their unle let the Junior Blue Notes perform in between sets at his nightclub engagements. It was his first experience of the stage that perhaps goes some way to explaining a love affair with performing that has increased rather than diminished with time.

In 1964, Maceo and his brother Melvin were in college in North Carolina studying music when a life-changing event took place. James Brown, happened on to an after hours club in which Melvin was drumming a gig. Brown hired the Parker brothers about a year later, and Maceo recollects that he and his brother thought they’d play with JB for about six months and then head back to school. Maceo laughs, “We stayed a lot longer than that.” To most musicologists it’s that fertile group of men who are recognized as the early pioneers of the modern funk. Maceo grew to become the lynch-pin 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,” passed into the language. He’s one of the most sampled musicians around because of the unique quality of his sound.

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