by Kevin Amos
Maceo Parker, horn man extraordinaire, is one of the pioneers of early funk and hip-hop. He is still the most sampled musician around simply because of the unique quality of his sound. Maceo and “The Love Band” strutted their funky stuff recently at the Byham Theater Downtown. Parker wowed the audience playing the sax, flute and even doing some vocals.
The two-hour 15-minute show impressed folks so much that new fans were dancing in the aisles for many of the numbers. Parker was one of two major instrumental front men who played with James Brown off and on for nearly 20 years beginning in 1964. He and Fred Wesley also headed the JBs, Browns’ famous band. In 1970 he left to form Maceo and All the Kings Men with some fellow Brown band members. In the mid ‘70s Parker hooked up with, Bootsy Collins (another Brown disciple) and George Clinton in the various incarnations of Funkadelic and Parliament. After Brown’s death he traveled and recorded with other Brown solo Trombonist Fred Wesley. Additionally, Parker has worked with Prince and the New Power Generation for a number of years as well.
Showing his admiration for James Brown and Ray Charles, Parker performed “You Don’t Know Me” and teased us with a brief keyboard riff of “What’d I Say.” Maceo also brought out Martha High, formally one of James Brown’s many female stars to perform “Think,” the tune made popular by Lyn Collins.
The nine piece band took us through the long set with a variety of other tunes that included, “Uptown Up,” “My Love,” “Run Joe,” “Bootsy’s Rubber Band” and “Pass the Peas.” This was a great way to end the long holiday weekend of jazz, funk and football.