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Waaaay Back in 1973, I remember being at a house party. Yall remember those don't cha? Here in 2012 when most people talk about the house parties of the past, they are usually described as "basement blue light parties." And of course most of the conversation will be about all of the great slow jams by groups like the Delfonics, the Moments, the Stylistics and others.
However, the slow jams were not the sum total of what happened at those house parties. House parties where I grew up at (in New York) almost always featured the "3:2 rotation." The "3:2 rotation" simply meant that you could always count on the DJ playing 3 fast songs followed by 2 slow jams, followed by 3 fast songs followed by 2 slow jams, and so forth. So there were ALWAYS plenty of super hellified funky joints and many of them featured artists from the James Brown Empire.
Well in 1973 I was a senior in high school and hanging out at a neighborhood house party one Saturday night, and a new song called "Doin It To Death" came on. "Doin It To Death" was an impressive song for sure, yeat another super hellified funky joint, from the James Brown Empire. With it's famous false ending the song seemed like it would never end, it was 10 min long and of course it served as a perfect set up for the slow jam that was to follow.
Of course the reason I mention "Doin It To Death" here is because that song was the very first time I ever heard James Brown mention Maceo Parker's name. But it would be far from the last. Seems like James Brown was always telling "Maceo to Blow," during the 1970's and as a result Maceo Parker became a familair name to funkateers everywhere as the sax man of the funkiest band in all the land (tha JB's!)
Later on of course Maceo became a member of P-Funk, which seemed like a natural evolution to us, then starting in the 1990's, Maceo put out a whole series of stank nasty solo funk joints nthat we dug. And of course he tours everywhere, we have a whole bunch of Maceo Parker live reviews up on the Soul-Patrol.com website.
However I will always allow my mind to drift back to "Doin It To Death," simply because I always want to compare what Maceo sounded like then to what he sounds like now.
And he is ALWAYS, just as funky today as he has always been!
That's why I have absolutly no problem whatsoever reccomending Maceo's latest recording to you. It's called "Soul Classics." It's full of cover songs for sure. But you have never heard them as funky as Maceo makes em...Maceo is just a part of my own personal DNA, maybe he is a part of yours too?
Check out the press release below and be sure to check out the links so that you can get a taste of Maceo Parker's new album called Soul Classics.
(and let me know what cha think?)
PRESS RELEASE: SAXOPHONIST MACEO PARKER REVISITS THE CLASSICS ON LIVE RECORDING WITH WDR BIG BAND
Soul Classics Taps Into The Music Of James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin And More
'Soul Classics' Set For Release On September 18, 2012 On Listen2 Entertainment / Razor & Tie
Renowned Saxophonist Maceo Parker will release a new live album Soul Classics, on September 18th through Listen2 Entertainment / Razor & Tie.
Parker reunites with the WDR Big Band for Soul Classics, a collection of nine songs recorded live at the Leverkusener Jazz Festival in Leverkusener, Germany, in November 2011. The recording captures Parker and special guests - bassist Christian McBride and drummer Cora Coleman-Dunham - in collaboration with the Cologne-based 15-piece orchestra led by conductor/arranger Michael Abene that has previously backed such prominent artists as Ray Charles, Joe Zawinul, Michael and Randy Brecker, and many others.
Maceo Parker, the saxophonist who pioneered the sounds of funk and soul in the 1960s as the high-profile sideman to the legendary James Brown, has since established a solo career that embraces not only that seminal funk sound but also jazz, R&B and more. In the decades since his departure from Brown's bands in 1970, Parker collaborated with other high profile figures like George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, and released a string of solo recordings that proved his merits as a composer and bandleader.
He first encountered WDR Big Band with the two-disc release of Roots & Grooves, a 2008 album that was on one hand a Ray Charles tribute and on the other a collection of Parker's own material in rich big band arrangements.
"It's great to make another live recording with the WDR Big Band," says Parker. "I remember being very excited about Roots & Grooves, and I'm just as excited three ears later about Soul Classics. This is a big band that truly understands the universal elements of American soul and R&B, and is able to convey them to an audience in rich, full and interesting arrangements. Listeners are going to some very familiar songs in an entirely new way, and in the process, they're going to rediscover just how great the material really is."
Parker drew his inspiration for the performance in much the same way that generations of American artists have drawn inspiration for decades - by listening to the radio. "I had my satellite radio on one of the soul stations, and I just listened to whatever they played," he explains. "If I felt good about something, I'd jot it down. That's the way I came up with my list of the soul classics that we played in the performance. The result was a couple of Aretha Franklin songs, some Jackson Five, a little bit of Michael Jackson, Bill Withers, Isaac Hayes and a couple more. And of course, I included some James Brown."
Soul Classics kicks off with a blast of energy from the James Brown canon - a driving rendition of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" propelled by the rock-solid combination of the WDR horn section and Coleman-Dunham's clockwork drumming and Parker's own soul-drenched vocals.
The followup track is an equally punchy and high-energy instrumental version of "I Wish," one of two Stevie Wonder songs in the set. The second is the celebratory "Higher Ground," which is built on a muscular synthesizer and horn bed that provides plenty of room for Parker and a few other WDR horn players to use the melody line as a lunch pad for some impressive solo acrobatics.
Further in, Parker and company slow it down a bit with a slow and sultry rendition of Isaac Hayes' "Do Your Thing" that relies on Frank Chastenier's Hammond B-3 to underscore some dramatic horn work by Parker and his WDR counterparts on horn. Paul Shigihara also delivers some intriguing, vibrato-laden guitar lines in between the horn solos.
Parker once again steps up to the mike to deliver the vocals on "Rock Steady," his homage to soul queen Aretha Franklin.
He closes the set in much the same way he opens it - this time with one of his own compositions, the punchy and uptempo "Come By and See," a song whose energy and percussive impact is reminiscent of the James Brown heyday. It's a free-for-all number, with plenty of call-and-response and audience participation. Well before the Midway through the song, the positive and enthusiastic crowd response is hard to miss.
"As I get older, it becomes increasingly important that I chase moments that are really fun for me," says Parker. "Working with the WDR Big Band has once again taken me to that peak, just as it did three years ago. I'm so thankful to everyone connected to this project - especially my two sidekicks, Cora and Christian - and to Michael Abene for the great arrangements and for assembling such a spectacular band."
While soul music may be an inherently American art form, "sometimes you have to step beyond the cultural boundaries of the music's point of origin and hear it through the ears of musicians from a different culture in order to regain your appreciation for it," he says. "The experience serves as a reminder that this music taps into something that's universal to the human experience. Thanks to a brilliant team of musicians, these Soul Classics make a direct connection to everyone everywhere.
Maceo Parker, Soul Classics, Track List:
1. Papa's Got A Brand New Bag
2. I Wish
3. Yesterday I Had The Blues
4. Higher Ground
5. Do Your Thing
6. Rock Steady
7. One In A Million You
8. Soul Power
10. Come By And See
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