Is there a more famous phrase in music than "Maceo! Blow Your Horn"? "I wanna hold your hand" is right up there. I'd accept "All the single ladies," if you're looking for something more contemporary. Still, "Maceo! Blow Your Horn" rightfully earns its iconic status due to the icon who uttered the phrase, as well as to whom that legendary artist was referring. Saxophonist Maceo Parker is one of the most famous sidemen in the rock era. And Parker has released several albums as a band leader since, his work as a member of James Brown's band and with Parliament/Funkadelic/Boosty's Rubber Band will lead any biography of the saxophonist.
Parker remains a top flight "get" for any artists looking to inject some jazz infused funk into their project. And for his own projects, he can also attract a coterie of highly regarded musicians looking to work with a legend. So should surprise no one to hear bassist Christian McBride, drummer Cora Coleman-Dunham and a 15 piece big band orchestra playing soul funk classics with Parker at the Leverkusener Jazz Festival in Leverkusener,Germany. That live show produced the nine song CD Soul Classics. The record features Parker leading the band on high powered covers of tunes such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "Higher Ground" "Do Your Thing" and "Rock Steady." Soul Classics also includes the Parker original "Come By and See," which is one of three vocal tracks on Soul Classics (he also sings on "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Rock Steady").
Parker's vocals turn out to be a revelation. He possesses a strong, throaty voice that would have made him right at home with soulful vocalists such as Brown and Bobby Byrd. Of course, the musicianship is Soul Classic's main draw. Performing tunes such as "I Wish" and "Do Your Thing" as instrumentals proves that there is not that much distance between R&B and jazz. The larger sound provided by the orchestra serves as the perfect platform for individual artists to do some first rate improvising.
Soul Classics is a fun and energetic trip down memory lane that will remind listeners what Brown and George Clinton saw in Parker and what continues to draw artists such as McBride and Coleman-Dunham, while proving that the masters of any craft always manage to have a few new (or at least under appreciated) tricks up their sleeves. Highly Recommended
By Howard Dukes