Album Review: Maceo Parker – Soul Food: Cooking With Maceo (The Funk Garage/Mascot)

Its time to get on the good foot! JB may be gone, but Maceo Parker is still blowing up a storm.

Soul Food: Cooking With Maceo is the horn man’s first new studio album in 8 years. Now 77 years old, Maceo still plays with the energy of a man half his age.

In case you are unaware, Maceo Parker was a key member of James Brown’s bands of the 1960’s playing alongside Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis. After a brief stint with his own band, Maceo & The Macks, he and Fred hooked up with George Clinton’s F-Funk outfit as The Horny Horns. Then if that’s not enough, Maceo then went on to a productive career working with none other than Prince. Of course you’ve seen him blowing off some steam in Dee-Lite’s classic video Groove Is In The Heart with his old buddy Bootsy Collins.

This new album, Soul Food comes with a New Orleans flavour. Recorded in The Crescent City, it features plenty of local help such as Ivan Neville.

This is also a covers album, with Maceo paying tribute to friends and influences from David “Fathead” Newman to the Purple One himself.

He also pays tribute to himself, revisiting two fine numbers from his back catalogue including set opener Cross The Track, originally released by Maceo & The Macks back in 1975. Needless to say, it’s as funky as ever.

The New Orleans greats are given their due with Allen Toussaint’s Yes We Can (Pointer Sisters), The Meters’ Just Kissed My Baby and Dr John’s Right Place, Wrong Time. And yes, the band cooks!

But as great as the band and the songs are, its Maceo’s horn that takes centre stage. When he calls out, “I’m going to play for you now!”, during Les McCann’s Compared To What, you’d better hold on.

Let’s face it, there are, and have been, some great sax players along the way, many of them perhaps more technically proficient than Maceo. But there is no one who plays with more funk and who has such a distinctive style.

Thank goodness he is still with us and still playing like the funk master he is.

Marty Duda