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Maceo Parker

Altoist Maceo Parker has long been famous for his association with James Brown and other kings of funk music in addition to having his own successful solo career. Born Feb. 14, 1943 in Kinston, North Carolina, he grew up in a very musical family. Parker loved the playing of such saxophonists as Hank Crawford, David “Fathead” Newman, Cannonball Adderley and King Curtis. Originally a tenor-saxophonist, Parker had his own soulful sound and funky style from the start. While in the sixth grade, he played with the Junior Blue Notes, a kids group that played between sets of the Blue Notes, a group fronted by his uncle. In 1965 when his brother Melvin Parker was offered the job of drummer with James Brown, he got Maceo a job with the Godfather of Soul too, filling the vacant baritone chair. During an association with Brown that lasted over two decades (from 1965-70 and then on and off during the 1970s and ’80s), Parker also played tenor but became best known for his alto solos including on “Cold Sweat” and “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.” He led Maceo and All The Kings Men during 1970-72 and worked with Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic and (in the late 1990s) Prince. Parker has also teamed up with Ray Charles, James Taylor, the Dave Matthews band and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Maceo Parker had strong success with his solo career in the 1990s, recording regularly as a leader for Verve (both jazz and funk projects) including the very popular Life On Planet Groove, and playing as many as 250 dates a year. In 2007 he paid tribute to Ray Charles in a project with the WDR Big Band that showcased his brand of funk in a larger setting.