“If Maceo is not on the groove, then the groove is not on.” – Stevie Wonder Maceo Parker has been on the groove all over the world and has played all of the House of Blues’ club venues except his hometown of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His extraordinary body of work stretches from the 60s to the present with virtually all of it high quality, despite his being in the shadow of James Brown for many years. But after tonight, funk and jazz just won’t be the same and I’m sure the good folks in Myrtle Beach must be DIALING MACEO PARKER as we speak!! Maceo Parker may be 98% funk and 2% jazz, but who cares about percentages when you can hear and see some of the purest funk jazz in the world from one of its most legendary funk masters? Man, did he blow Saturday night, February 17t at the Sunset Strip House of Blues! For over three hours, Maceo had fun and so did we! Baby- faced p-funkers, dot.com x-gens, homeboys, and even a hoard of baby boomers packed from the club floor to the roof rafters and were showing the love they have for Maceo. In return, he gave us one great show and just what the crowd needed to get their groove on! The audience had more fun than you can imagine, jamming to the pure funk of the legendary saxophonist and his band. Maceo spread his “p-funk” as the crowd partied into the wee hours of the morning. Every song brought new life to the standing room crowd as the legendary saxophonist, flautist, composer, arranger and hero of horn charts jammed his heart out. You should have been there! Cheer after cheer turned up the heat in the middle of winter in LA! Parker has had the good fortune to have consistently great musicians to drive and transform his visionary ideas into the pure funk and jazz that his fans thrive on and tonight, Maceo Parker starred on every tune. His band, all one of a kind funk talent included Rodney Skeet Curtis of P-Funk on bass, Greg Boyer of P-Funk on trombone, Ron Tooley of James Brown’s band on trumpet, Bruno Speight on guitar, Will Boulware on Hammond organ and Jamal Thomas on drums. If you wanted to dance, you danced and it was all over for the crowd when he opened with his funk classic “Pass The Peas.” Bringing an immediate thunderous ovation, the “ funky feet” just couldn’t stop moving! Everywhere you looked, heads were nodding and feet were moving. Maceo told his guests that “Everything we do from now on, is going to be funky,” and the Parker anthem roused the crowd even more as he broke into the song, “Rabbits In The Pea Patch,” a hit from his latest CD, Dial Maceo. The master saxophonist also lets his band work THEIR plans on the crowd and they really shined on such songs as “Black Widow” and “Simply Tooley.” Trumpet maestro Ron Tooley hit registers out of the stratosphere on this song and trombonist Greg Boyer played one of the best trombone solos we’ve heard in a while on the funky jazz set. “Latin Like” a mambo and clave groove brought an instant response from the audience and it really doesn’t matter what Maceo Parker plays, the crowd was so into him that you just fall into his instant groove. He can play anything: jazz, Latin grooves, funk, pop, R&B. You name it and he can play it. A true sign of a master musician.
Maceo Parker was awesome as he introduced his very special guest STEVIE WONDER! The place went wild! And I do mean wild! Stevie started a clap groove that got the crowd so involved that we now know how to clap in five different tempos! The call and response of “I want some money, that’s what I want,” was one of the best grooves of the night and just seeing the legendary Stevie Wonder and Maceo Parker on the same stage is enough to keep any funky function happening.
As the crowd tried to absorb what had just happened, Stevie eased back into his seat and Maceo grooved into “The Greatest Romance That’s Ever Been Sold,” a tune by Prince. The hush that came over the crowd as the funk saxophonist played the flute was a sure sign of respect for this great master. His mastery of the melodic nuance on this song was a beautiful but stark contrast from the funky set we’d heard most of the night. Maceo Parker’s approach to the flute solo was exceptional and this “live” performance of the tune served as a passionate interaction with the audience.
From medleys featuring tunes from Sly Stone, and The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing,” to keeping the groove going with great solos, the legendary Maceo Parker was in superb form. If you’ve never seen him perform, then you’ve got work to do! The funk and jazz this night at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip was unreal and reflects Parker’s continuing desire to push the funky jazz envelope. And that’s all to the good for funk and jazz.