Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Maceo Parker - Roots and Grooves (Heads Up, 2008)

Tenor saxophonist Maceo Parker hooks up with the German WDR Big Band for a two disc live set, the first disc is a tribute to Ray Charles with Parker taking on the vocal duties in addition to his saxophone. The second disc has a set of James Brown styled funk that Parker's fans will be more familiar with. On the Charles tribute, the up-tempo numbers like "Hit the Road Jack" and "What I'd Say" really benefit from the horn-heavy and whip-tight big band urging them along. Parker sings well on these and on the slower soulful ballad numbers like "Margie" and "You Don't Know Me." The second disc brings the old school funk and the crowd just goes crazy culminating in the seventeen minute plus blowout "Pass the Peas." The band is really with Parker every step of the way, proving that funk is a worldwide phenomenon. This is a very well done double disc, both discs hold up independently or together with Parker and the other members of the band soloing with great excitement and the ensemble playing is stellar. Fans of funky soul jazz will really enjoy this set.

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