Review by Hayley Clark

Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Ani DiFranco and Parliament are just some of the acts the incredible American saxophonist Maceo Parker has performed with. Having started his career with the Godfather of soul himself James Brown, Maceo’s talent shone through leading the North Carolinian native to be hot property in the jazz industry. In the early millennium Maceo was one of the first wave of Prince’s New Power Generation horn section having contributed to eight albums and performing in sell out shows such as the legendary 21 nights at London’s O2, so to see him return to the capital is a huge treat for this flexible musician.

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Photo Credit: Ines Kaiser

Huge queues snaked into London’s Roundhouse, support from Down To The Bone kept the crowd entertained as they eagerly awaited the legend’s return to the UK, keeping it funky they hyped up the audience with their blend of acid jazz. A deep horn section and stringed groove from the six piece fitted perfectly in tonight’s line-up, the kinda groove you’d find on a 70’s B movie and could get down to.

As the cheers faded a short interval was passed with soul and funk classics booming through the PA, people of all ages and backgrounds huddled in for the sold out show as a recognisable horn intro filled the venue, as the band came on and ‘1999’ boomed aloud, “Ladies and gentleman, we bring to you Mr Maceo Parker”, the crowd erupted through the roof with cheers.

Dressed in trademark suit and shades the funk pioneer appeared on the iconic stage accompanied by his band including long term co performer Greg Boyer, not a person stood still, even the stalls on the second level were on their feet as the music swept through. Clear and concise the sax sound oozed smoothness as he took the crowd on a magical evening. Joking with the crowd his charisma shone through with little anecdotes and ditties, paying respect to his band who were very tight on stage as the funk flowed. The crowd dancing energetically as they were treated to a catalogue of timeless tracks ‘Make It Funky’ and ‘Funky Good Time’ impressing his skills, the up-tempo solos leaving nothing to the imagination of the talent coming from the stage.

This was something magical, from start to finish with Ben E King’s ‘Stand By Me’ and an extended version of ‘Let’s Get It On’ thrown in for the lovers to get a little closer. Maceo was on form tonight, even bringing out the flute and letting Greg lead the way with some trombone solos.

With crowd chants of “Oh We Oh” rising to the ceiling he burst into the funk filled encore of ‘Pass The Peas’ leaving the audience elated as he conquered the stage, the flexibility of his rhythm and tone flowing freely into the Camden air.

You don’t tend to come across sax players of this calibre very often so the intimate venue and closeness was one to behold, there must be something in the Carolina water as it’s buzzing with upcoming talent however with an inspiration like Maceo Parker as a native it’s clear to see why that is the case.

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