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Maceo Parker – Blues Highlights

Maceo Parker – Blues Highlights

With Maceo Parker joining James Brown’s band in 1964, you have to say that their collaborations are legendary! These two guys were like two peas in a pod performing together on stage. And from an audience point of view, it’s mind-blowing! This particular track’s title is Soul Power ’74 is an instrumental version of Brown’s 1971 hit Soul Power. This performance is at the Ritz on 1/26/1986.

The musicians in the video that I recognize are Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Skunk Baxter on guitar with Charles Sharrell on bass? But trust me, James Brown could play a variety of instruments as well, but I think he likes being the front man dancing and grooving. Plus, he could easily pull off this part with the greatest of ease. For me, this video is the steppingstone of me loving jazz, funk, and the blues. Brown’s right-hand man was saxophonist Maceo Parker, who joins Brown’s band in 1964. Their collaborations, it’s fair to say, legendary. With “I Feel Good,” “Out of Sight,” “Papa’s Got a Brand-New Bag,” “Cold Sweat,” “Lickin’ Stick” and “Mother Popcorn.” 

Musical Family

Growing up in a musical family, with his mother and father performing in church. As well as an uncle who has a marching band. Even more, his older brother plays the trombone, so he decides to play the saxophone. And lastly, his younger brother plays the drums as a kid. Following in the footsteps of his uncle’s The Blue Notes. him and his brothers and cousins call themselves The Junior Blue Notes. During this time, he continues to practice and perform while honing his skills wherever he finds a place to do so.
And then, he embraces the world of funk along with his brother and cousins. Somehow, James Brown hears Maceo’s brother play and offers him a job, while they convince him to consider a family package, Brown hires Maceo and two of his brothers to tour with him. Wanting to branch out when it came to music, Maceo would spend a chunk of the money he makes on albums with all kinds of genres to educate himself on what’s out there in the world. Basically, wanting to create his own unique style of music and that he did! Not wanting to sound like anyone else he would listen to it over and over until he felt comfortable playing it and then he funkified it. As for James, if he found a groove that he likes, he would stop at a radio station and record.

Surviving the 70s 

While I love the idea of Maceo and George Clinton performing together, you know they were kindred spirits. Maceo at the time, is also feature performer in Parliament & Funkadelic as well as Bootsy Collins Rubber Band. Furthermore, still working with James brown. During this time, he’s all over the place performing finding inspiration and other things along the way. With everything he learned in the 70s, in 1990 Parker releases “Roots Revisited which kickstarts his solo career as well.

It’s also a huge hit by remaining #1 on the jazz charts for over 10 weeks.  later, he starts to see a younger crowd coming to his shows. Mostly college age but it did garner him a nice following all over the world. Along the way, he’s played with the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bryan Ferry, Keith Richards, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Prince whom he worked with on several albums. When I saw Maceo live, his performance was over the top and with a cool energy and connection. He’s truly a gem in the jazz world.

Keeping the Blues Alive

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