Maceo Parker – Mo’ RootsMark Dohmann
|Label:||Minor Music – MM 1018|
|Format:||Vinyl, LP, Album|
|Genre:||Jazz, Funk / Soul|
“98% Funky Stuff”
Are you a fan of Mr. Dynamite, Soul Brother No.1? AKA James Brown’s music?
I’ve only seen James Brown once live in Melbourne at the Rod Laver Arena. He was in his twilight years by then but still managed to explode on stage. No video projection, no fancy effects or stage lighting…only amazing tight funk and soul.
From the moment the lights dimmed the crowd got on their feet to welcome the “Godfather of Soul”, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” and “Mr. Dynamite”, James Brown.
As was his custom the lead up was like announcing a prize fighter entering the ring. The MC whose job it was to remind as to who was going to get on stage next…announced the Bittersweets, the Godfather’s female backing vocalists then his band at that time in 2004, the Soul Generals. As they walked on to stage and started to groove the band comprised of 2 bass players, 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, a percussionist and 3-piece horn section.
The MC would call out a hit and the band would play the hook of the song. Then the MC and band asked us to chant “James Brown, James Brown”… and we did until the man himself walked up on stage to thunderous applause.
He started out the set by hitting some serious funk including “Get up off That Thing” (obviously a futuristic ode to foregoing Facebook for a few minutes and enjoying life J). Very impressive for a man that was at that time in his 70’s! He would call out to his musicians to solo on the many extended jams that included James Brown on keyboards.
This concert was more like an old fashioned soul revue where everyone gets a chance to highlight their talent. One of the Bittersweets sang Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect‘ and James Brown’s wife Tomi Rae came on stage and performed Etta James’ ‘At Last’ which is the first time during the night we could sit down.
The concert came alive again with the classic ‘I Feel Good’. People from all walks of life were dancing in the aisles. Soon after this song the night ended with an extended version of ‘Sex Machine’.
Not often you get to see one of the pioneers of funk and soul music so far from his home. It was the band that was also a real highlight for me. Amazing musicians who provided a freight train of funk and soul groove.
When you dig into the work of the sidemen and women from James Brown’s bands there’s a bunch of great music and some it well recorded with amazing dynamics. Maceo Parker – Mo’ Roots album is a later recording from Germany which is a nice way to explore some classics in the funk soul genre with an amazing saxophonist supported by some great bass’n’drum combo’s. Sonics are big and well recorded.
By way of background Maceo Parker was one of the “original” J.B.’s who formed in March 1970 after most of the members of Brown’s previous band walked out on him over a pay dispute. (Brown’s previous bands of the 1950s and 1960s had been known as The James Brown Band and The James Brown Orchestra.)
Maceo Parker (born February 14, 1943) is an American funk and soul jazz saxophonist, best known for his work with James Brown in the 1960s, as well as Parliament-Funkadelic in the 1970s. Parker was a prominent soloist on many of Brown’s hit recordings, and a key part of his band, playing alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. Since the early 1990s, he has toured under his own name.
The J.B.’s initial line up included bassist William “Bootsy” Collins and his guitarist brother Phelps “Catfish” Collins, formerly of the obscure funk band The Pacemakers; Bobby Byrd (founder of the original Famous Flames singing group) (organ), and John “Jabo” Starks (drums), both from Brown’s 60s band; three horn players, Clayton “Chicken” Gunnells, Darryl “Hasaan” Jamison, and Robert McCollough; and conga player Johnny Griggs.
In December 1970 trombonist Fred Wesley rejoined James Brown’s organization to lead the J.B.’s. Other former Brown sidemen including Maceo Parker and St. Clair Pinckney eventually followed his lead, while the Collins brothers and most of the rest of the “original” J.B.’s left Brown to join George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic collective. Wesley and Parker left in 1975. Brown continued to bill his backing band as the J.B.’s into the mid-1980s, when he changed their name to the Soul Generals, or Soul G’s.
The JB Horns
During the 1980s and 1990s, Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley intermittently toured under the name The JB Horns, sometimes with other former Brown sidemen such as Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis in tow. The JB Horns recorded several albums for the Gramavision label which were later reissued by Rhino Records. They also recorded an album under this name with producer Richard Mazda called I Like It Like That.
The JB Horns are also associated with The Horny Horns, staple members of P-Funk and Bootsy’s Rubber Band, which was led by Fred Wesley and included Maceo, as well as Rick Gardner and Richard “Kush” Griffith on trumpets.
Maceo Parker is in focus on this album released in 1991 as a sonically enjoyable series of classic hits from Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Hampton, Otis Redding, Steve Cropper and Maceo Parker.
For a great opening salvo of saxophone and drums and bass try this funk!
Or the familiar Track 2 “Chicken” which would be very recognisable if you also like the work of bassist Jaco Pastorius .
Maceo Parker was influential on many younger musicians including Prince who certainly knew how to play funk and soul in a modern context. Maceo Parker was there for the start and is still active. In February 2013, Parker published his autobiography, 98% Funky Stuff: My Life in Music.
If you enjoy the funk / soul genre then it’s often hard to find good sounding and well recorded examples. A lot of the 60’ds and 70’s cuts were compressed and made for different audiences. Hearing the bands play live is where you realise the horn sections had such power that they could overshadow the bass and drums. To record all this cleanly onto LP is pretty hard.
This album is a solid introduction to some great funk and soul and is eminently playable on good systems. You’ll soon forget the audiophile aspects as the groove takes over and you start humming and playing along on your favourite instrument as “the musician on the stage” (of your imagination) with your Soul Brothers (hell, I can even dance and move on that stage…..) as Fa Fa Fa (The Sad Song) kicks in……….
A1 Hallelujah I Love Her So 3:57
A2 Chicken 8:17
A3 Let’s Get It On 7:43
A4 Hamp’s Boogie Woogie 6:12
B1 Fa Fa Fa (The Sad Song) 4:48
B2 Jack’s Back 5:41
B3 Sister Sadie 5:26
B4 Southwick 9:08
Alto Saxophone – Maceo Parker
Artwork – Sanna Salber
Drums – Bill Stewart (tracks: A1 to A4, B2 to B4)
Engineer – David Baker
Engineer [Assistant] – Peter Beckerman
Executive-Producer – Stephan Meyner
Guitar [Guitars] – Rodney Jones
Mastered By – Ansgar Ballhorn
Organ [Hammond B-3], Keyboards – Larry Goldings
Photography By – Achim Kröpsch
Tenor Saxophone – Pee Wee Ellis
Trombone – Fred Wesley