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Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker was born February 14, 1943. Parker is an American funk and soul jazz saxophonist. Best known for his work with James Brown in the 1960s. As well as Parliament-Funkadelic in the 1970s. Parker was a  soloist on many of Brown’s hit recordings, and a key part of his band. Since the early 1990s, he has toured under his own.

Parker’s mother and father both had an appreciation for music and sang in their church’s choir. But it was his uncle who had the strongest influence on Parker. Parker’s uncle led a local jazz and R&B band called the Blue Notes.  In time, Maceo would take up the saxophone, while his brothers learned other instruments. His uncle soon dubbed them “the Junior Blue Notes”. As a result, they’d perform between sets at Blue Notes shows.

The Parker brothers were professionals by the time they enrolled at North Carolina A&T, where they studied music. Melvin Parker auditioned with James Brown. Melvin landed the gig. He asked if Brown could use a new sax player as well. Maceo was offered a spot in the band.

However, most of Brown’s band to quit in 1970. Maceo was one of the musicians who walked, and he soon formed his own group, Maceo & All the King’s Men. Maceo & All the King’s Men had released an album by the year was out, titled Doin’ Their Own Thing, but despite the strength of their live show, they didn’t fare as well as they had hoped.

In 1973, Maceo rejoined Brown’s touring band. He found time to cut a solo album, Us, in 1974. The following year Maceo left the group, to work with George Clinton’s various projects, including Parliament and Funkadelic.

By 1984, Maceo signed back on with Brown for another four years. He appeared as a guest on several of Clinton’s solo albums. In 1988, Keith Richards invited Maceo to perform on his debut solo album. As hip-hop acts began recycling Brown’s grooves. Parker found himself in demand with contemporary acts.

In 1990, Maceo Parker stepped out as a solo act. With funk back popular, Parker found he had a ready audience for his new music. Maceo and his band were playing up to 150 nights a year. Through the 1990s, Parker released a steady stream of solo records and made guest appearances.

Parker performed a series of concerts. Parker also paid homage to a handful of other R&B greats by putting his stamp on classic numbers by Stevie WonderAretha FranklinIsaac Hayes, and his former employer James Brown.

The jazz legend Maceo Parker will perform at Chicago Jazz Festival. His performance will be Sunday, Sept. 2 at Jay Pritzker Pavilion at 7:45–9pm.




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