Maceo Parker Big Band
Say the name Maceo Parker, and immediately the legendary R&B saxman's longterm association with the late, great James Brown comes to mind. Depending on how steeped one is in R&B, Parker's later work with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins might pop up. But long before the Godfather of Soul entered the saxman's life, Parker was grooving heavily onRay Charles, who became one of the influential musical heroes of his life. The first disc of Roots and Grooves gloriously celebrates Parker's connection to these roots, his early years in North Carolina listening to early Charles tracks on the radio. The second is something of a wildly jazzy, impossibly funky jam retrospective on his best solo tracks. The hook that makes this more than simply a high energy covers date is that it teams the brilliant altoist with Germany's renowned WDR Big Band— and from the first swinging blasts behind Parker's horn on "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "big" is the operative word. Given Parker's sense of groove invention and the evergreen emotional power of Charles' chestnuts like "Busted" and "Hit the Road Jack," anyone might have expected this to be a dream match. But it's more than that because Parker also sings with a gravelly, Charles-like perfection on these two songs, and even more poignantly on "You Don't Know Me," "Margie," and a magically moody "Georgia on My Mind." Charles may have been declared deceased in body in 2004, but he lives again through Parker in haunting yet wonderful ways. On "Getting Back to Funk" (the title of the second disc), Parker revisits his own rich catalog of classics, starting with "Uptown Up" and vibing right on through to a nearly 18-minute scorching take on "Pass the Peas." Released in 2007, this double set was an instant classic. Charles was not the only genius who loved company — Parker, too, has a blast working with one of the hippest big bands in the world.
All Music Guide