Maceo Parker

Selected by Dan Grunebaum
Maceo Parker

James Brown' right-hand man
Blue Note Tokyo

"Maceo! Blow your horn!" is how Ambassador of Soul James Brown would signal his favorite horn player to take another burning sax solo, and for a decade that's what Parker did as Brown's alto saxophonist. Now, as a bandleader and star in his own right, Parker once again takes up residency at the Blue Note Tokyo in mid-April.

Hailing from Kinston, North Carolina, Parker got his gig working for Brown mainly because Brown was impressed with his brother Melvin's drumming chops. But Parker soon made a name for himself, providing the steaming breaks in Brown hits like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Cold Sweat."

Defecting from the notoriously overbearing Brown camp in 1970, Parker formed Maceo and All the King's Men along with ex-section mates from Brown's band trombonist Fred Wesley and saxist Pee Wee Ellis. He rejoined the Brown band three years later but also did stints with Parliament/Funkadelic and Bootsy's (P-funk bassist Bootsy Collins) Rubber Band later in the '70s. In an interview with the New Funk Times, Parker compared working with these two towering figures of funk: "James would have strict regulations - you gotta wear this uniform, you gotta stand here, you gotta do this routine - that's where it differs a bit. George is like - come as you are and do what you feel like doing, ain't nothing but a party!"

In the '90s Parker has emerged into the spotlight, releasing several well-received albums including Roots Revisited (which topped the Billboard Jazz Charts for two months in 1990), Mo' Roots on the Verve imprint, and more recently Funk Overload in 1998 and Doin' Their Own Thing (Charly) in 1999.

Parker has also been the subject of a film, My First Name Is Maceo, created by German director Markus Gruber in 1994. The film crew went on tour with Parker and captured - both on and offstage - the warm and generous personality that flows through Parker's music.

While Parker may have parted with Brown for good, there don't seem to be any hard feelings. When Brown was jailed in the late '80s, Parker was there for him, recording a rap song that urged the Godfather of Soul's immediate freedom.

For the upcoming Blue Note gigs - his first in Japan in almost two years - Parker will be debuting tracks off his latest album, Dial Parker (Victor). The saxophonist will be bringing with him a ten-piece band, including no less than three vocalists: Corey Parker, "Sweet" Charles Sherrell and Martha High.

Maceo Parker plays the Blue Note Tokyo April 16-21. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana