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Maceo Parker
Jazz

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"Maceo! Blow your horn!" That's how James Brown would dynamically signal his favorite horn player to take another stinging sax solo -- and Maceo Parker never once let his boss down. Parker's jabbing workouts in the midst of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Cold Sweat" made him a household name among '60s funk fans -- not bad for a kid fresh out of college who got the gig primarily because Brown coveted his brother Melvin's drumming chops. Now Parker is a star in his own right. His Verve albums Roots Revisited and Mo' Roots impeccably spotlight his soul-drenched alto sax on a sizzling hybrid of funk, R&B, and jazz. And he's brought along his ex-section mates from Brown's band -- trombonist Fred Wesley and saxist Pee Wee Ellis -- to stoke the almighty groove. The North Carolina product quit Brown several times. Along with his bandmates, Parker mutinied in 1970 to form Maceo & All the King's Men, only to return to the fold three years later; later in the decade, he worked with Parliament/Funkadelic and Bootsy's Rubber Band. But when Brown was incarcerated, Parker was there for him, releasing a rap song that urged the Godfather of Soul's immediate freedom. With his newfound solo fame, however, it's doubtful that you'll see Parker back in Brown's horn section anytime soon. Bill Dahl

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