Maceo Parker/Soul Classics Featuring Bassist Christian McBride… I first started listening to Maceo Parker when my son (the sax player) was in fifth grade and brought home the “School’s In” CD; I really enjoyed that recording! So you can imagine how excited I was to get a new CD from Maceo after all these years!
“Soul Classics” is a solid CD with a wide selection of songs ranging from James Brown to Stevie Wonder. There is even one of Maceo’s own compositions (see the list below). The recording was done at a live venue (the Leverkusener Jazztage, November 10, 2011) and you can feel the high energy that was on that stage that night.
The set list includes:
- Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
- I Wish
- Yesterday I Had the Blues
- Higher Ground
- Do Your Thing
- Rock Steady
- One in a Million You
- Soul Power
- Come and See
The players include:
Vocals and alto sax
WDR Big Band Cologne
So, let’s mention some of the highlights.
“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” is a natural tune for Maceo as he spent so much time playing with “The Godfather of Soul” himself. The sax solo is what sets this cut apart from the original; the aggressively upbeat tempo is meant to get you worked up.
“I Wish” is a great instrumental version of one of Stevie Wonder’s most recognized tunes. It has great percussive elements and some really nice syncopated “Stop and Go’s”. There is a drum solo with only the bass that carries the tune along nicely.
“Yesterday I Had the Blues” gives us a good dose of blues guitar by Mr. Randy Watson complimenting Maceo’s vocals. The rest of the band lays back a little but jumps in and lends some support at just the right times.
“Rock Steady” is a funky Aretha Franklin cut with a constant bass groove keeping a driving pace. This is another tune where the horn section shows how tight it really is and what a good arrangement can do with a favorite tune. The Hammond B-3 solo adds just enough soul to shake the house.
“Soul Power” is another James Brown tune, but what makes this one different is that Christian McBride gets to really cut loose on this track; this track alone is a bonus for all the bass players in the house! Lot’s of great funk fills out the rest of the tune.
Overall, the CD is very upbeat with a decent variety of tempos. Christian holds down the low end and keeps the groove going without going over the top. That said, you can hear him playing quite well, but the soloing is at a minimum. Nonetheless, he does quite a respectable job, as always!
It is always good to see a seasoned musician like Maceo still hitting it hard! If you dig soul and funk, then this is a CD for you to check out.
Check out Maceo’s website at maceoparker.com