INTERVIEW: Maceo Parker Makes it Funky

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Thursday April 12, 2012

from Canberra Times

Make it Funky
By John Shand

Not one to argue, Maceo Parker lets his sax do the talking.

Maceo Parker loves westerns. Watching John Wayne or Clint Eastwood spray bullets around his laptop is his favourite escape from the bump and grind of leading one of the world’s funkiest bands.

Not that Parker, 69, doesn’t still love what he does. Even after five decades on the road, the arch saxophonist laughs at the idea that just occasionally he heads for the stage wishing he were somewhere else.

‘‘I’m really at ease in being me,’‘ he says, ‘‘and going all around the world playing music. But I do get a lift once we start. I’m humming stuff in the dressing room and smiling, looking at myself and making sure I don’t have nose hair! But once I get really close to the stage and the guys are doing the intro thing, I do get a pick-me-up.’‘

Parker’s saxophone has been the meteor racing across the sky above the music of James Brown, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Prince and his own bands, but he could easily have followed his teenage music buddies into college instead. ‘‘They’d get a teaching job somewhere,’‘ he says, ‘‘and have a high school band doing half-time shows at football games and Christmas parades. I thought: ‘OK, is that the top of it? ‘¦ I’d rather be a performer and perhaps have my own group.’‘’

The North Carolina native is a rather more congenial bandleader than was Brown, who was renowned for routinely fining his musicians for misdemeanours ranging from on-stage mistakes to unpunctuality.

‘‘I like to give the guys a little bit of freedom,’‘ Parker says, ‘‘but at the same time, I do like us to stay on the same page. But I like for them to have fun, and that makes it easy. There are guys that have been with me for years and years, so I do something right.’‘

Read more the full article here