Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo
The Funk Garage
The living legend of the funk-soul saxophone Maceo Parker returns – his first studio album in eight years. And he sounds good. Really good. From the hip-hop hints on opener, Cross The Track, through some N’awlins strut (Yes We Can Can, Right Place Wrong Time) and Soul-Train inspired disco-infused funk (Rock Steady) Parker is having fun here. And did I mention already that he sounds great?
He’s in fine vocal form and clearly wants to pay tribute to some fallen soldiers (Allen Toussaint, Aretha Franklin, Dr John, Prince, Art and Charles Neville) as well as re-cutting some of his own signature material.
That light and breezy sax solo style bounces across tunes, the solos exquisite examples of happy understatement, all tone and joy (Grazing In The Grass) and as he stops off to tip his hat to friends and heroes the album’s 10 cuts just whiz by.
Okay, maybe the version of Right Place wrong Time does nothing new and won’t have you replacing Dr. John’s killer song in your cue, but Parker’s got something here vocally. That’s maybe best expressed on his lovely, bluesy stroll through lesser-known Prince gem, Other Side Of The Pillow. He’s got a touch of Ray Charles to his sound – always one of his heroes of course. And speaking of Ray Charles and Parker’s heroes, brother Ray’s Hard Times (penned by long-serving sax sideman, David “Fathead” Newman) is one of the instrumental highlights here. Parker channels both Newman and Ray in his solos.
As usual, Maceo fronts a kick-ass combo. Ivan Neville is on the organ and the wonderful New Orleans trombonist Steve Sigmund is in here to provide the Fred Wesley role. Such a happy sounding album, with warm and respectful tributes paid to a handful of recently passed legends; all contemporaries and bandmates of Parker at one point or other. He is in such winning form here, 77 years young. Maceo, blow your horn!
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