REVIEW: Maceo Parker at College of St. Rose's

< Back

Friday September 30, 2011


LIVE: Maceo Parker @ the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, 9/23/11

Maceo Parker’s appearance at Massry Center started 15 minutes late. I’d ascribed that to a serious amount of walk-up action at the box office, and that did happen. The real reason, though, was trumpeter Lee Hogans and backup vocalist/Maceo’s son Corey Parker were driving to the gig from Philadelphia, where their flight had been diverted due to bad weather. But even though Maceo was playing short-handed, that wasn’t going to stop the former James Brown sideman from funking up the Massry Center.

After a terrific introduction from nephew/monster drummer Marcus Parker and a short warm-up from what remained of the band, Maceo got himself a standing ovation just by walking on stage. Decked out in a grey suit with black shirt and tie, Parker put his alto sax to his lips and gave us what only can be described as a musical review of his resume: He blasted us with a taste of his sax skills, did a dead-on version of Brown’s iconic dance shuffle, sang a couple of bars of ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’, and went right back to blowing the house down. He also trotted out a sample of ‘Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)’, reminding us that Parker was also part of Parliament/Funkadelic, arguably the greatest funk band in the universe. His sample included a wordless vocalization he credited to P-Funk mastermind George Clinton. ‘I don’t know what it means,’ he admitted, arms out to his sides, but his grin said he sure liked it.

Although this band plays on the jazz festival circuit, Parker wanted to make it clear that jazz was ‘not what we do.’ Then he demonstrated what it was he ‘does not do’ ‘” first by vocalizing a stereotypical jazz figure, and then doing a hilarious impression (complete with bird-like head-bobbing) of every Charlie Parker wannabe you’ve ever wanted to hit in the head with a frying pan. The impression got a great assist from keyboardist Will Boulwere, who was Parker’s willing foil when he wasn’t churning out spicy organ and Fender Rhodes solo. Parker asked us all night long to give the band some love, but his affection for Boulwere as a player and a person was more than evident.

Read the full review here