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Maceo Parker Brings His Own Brand of Cool

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Tuesday January 10, 2012

from Metro Active

Maceo Parker Brings His Own Brand of Cool
by Steve Palopoli

Maceo Parker has played with some of the most iconic and eccentric personalities in music history. As James Brown’s sax man, he helped write the rules of modern R&B. As the musical director of George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, he led a sonic revolution in the ’70s. As part of Prince’s band, he’s helped him become one of the most in-demand live acts of this century. He’s worked on projects with everyone from Keith Richards to Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction.

The question is: how does he do it? How does he collaborate with pop’s oversized personalities without setting off a war of egos?

Duh, he’s Maceo.

“I’m easygoing,” said Parker by phone after winding up his extended New Year’s Eve duties. “I’ve got a real long, long, long, long chain before you get me out of my thing. I’m just one of those guys, I’ll open the door for you, you can go in the elevator first. If there’s a long line of cars, I’ll stop and let you in. I just do that.”

If Parker’s cool runs deep, it has also spread wide. “One of the things I never envisioned really is so many parents naming their kids Maceo,” he says. “Man, all over the world, I’m telling you. It’s crazy, really crazy. There was one time I had three little Maceos on stage. One of the left side of the stage, one in the center, one on the right. None of them knew each other, but they were all Maceo because of me.”

Parker has been recording with his own various bands off and on since the early 70s, winning a “Jammie” for Best Jazz Album in 2009 for his most recent album, the Ray Charles tribute Roots & Grooves.

When he comes to Montalvo in Saratoga on Wednesday, he brings a reputation for transcendent live shows that can stretch on for hours. He’s so known for epic partying he had to do four straight nights through New Year’s Eve last month, at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

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