Saturday September 17, 2016
Maceo Parker Talks His ‘Dream Come True’: Paying Tribute to Idol Ray Charles
By: Gail Mitchell
Maceo Parker has funked it up with the best: James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic and Prince. But the legendary sax man is now fulfilling what he calls “a dream come true”: performing with the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raelettes.
The musical match-up takes the stage Saturday night (Sept. 17) at the Monterey Jazz Festival. And the Monterey, Calif., audience will no doubt scream, shout and clap resoundingly just as fans did when Parker marked his first performance with Charles’ bandmates at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (Aug. 17). Resplendent in a blue-patterned brocade tux jacket and shades, Parker sang and played his way through such classics as “Georgia on My Mind,” “I’ve Got a Woman,” “Hit the Road Jack,” “Unchain My Heart” and “What’d I Say” during the show, billed as “The Ultimate Tribute to Ray Charles.”
In fact, it was the 1959 No. 1 R&B hit “What’d I Say” that introduced Parker to who would become his lifelong influence and idol.
“My brother and I went absolutely crazy listening to it on the radio,” says the 73-year-old as he riffs on the song’s first verse. “The beat and all that percussion in there? It was like wow because nothing like that had been recorded before. Ray really lived what he was singing, that soul thing. And that’s what I try to do with my playing — get close to that. But whoa, I never dreamed that I’d work with his band.”
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