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The Foundations of Funk: Maceo Parker and Christian McBride, May 22 at Orchestra Hall

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Thursday May 19, 2011

From Jazz Police

The Foundations of Funk: Maceo Parker and Christian McBride, May 22 at Orchestra Hall
By Andrea Canter

It’s a night billed as “funktastic!” On May 22 (7:30 pm) at Minnesota Orchestra Hall, the “Funk Titan” saxophonist Maceo Parker shares the stage with jazz bass virtuoso Christian McBride. Each brings along an ensemble of like-minded musicians for a memorable, soulful evening.

The name “Maceo Parker” has come to be synonymous with “funk.” His first mentor was his uncle who led a local band (The Blue Notes) in Maceo’s native North Carolina. With his two brothers, Maceo first played in the Junior Blue Notes; as a sixth grader, he was playing between his uncle’s nightclub sets. Inspired by David Fathead Newman, Hank Crawford, Cannonball Adderley and King Curtis, Maceo already had his own style on tenor by age 15. But he owes his first big gig with James Brown to brother Melvin. When the brothers were studying music in college in North Carolina, it was Melvin’s drumming that caught the attention of Brown, who was also seeking a bari sax player. Maceo quickly found a bari, and that was the beginning of a 20-year association with the Godfather of Soul. With Brown, Parker developed his signature funk style.

During the 70s, Parker worked with Bootsy Collins, George Clinton and editions, Funkadelic, Parliament and Mothership as well as continuing his relationship with James Brown. By 1990 he was focusing more on his own projects, releasing solo albums Roots Revisited and Mo’ Roots before his ground-breaking Life on Planet Groove (1992) which prompted his motto, “2% jazz, 98% funky stuff.” Now a touring headliner, Parker was known internationally for shows going more than three hours. He has also toured with Prince since 1999. Other collaborations have included Ray Charles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ani DiFranco and James Taylor, and projects with the WDR Big Band, including tributes to Ray Charles. In 2003 he was recognized for his contributions to R&B with the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

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