Walk up to anyone and ask them to play the word-association game: the game where you say a word and they blurt out the very first thing that comes to mind. Say the word “funky,” and more than likely their response will be “James Brown,” “Horns,” “Chicken” or “Funkadelic.” And while there really is no right or wrong answer in a game designed to observe the human thought process, a better response arguably would have been “Maceo,” the first name of the player synonymous with the head bopping sounds of his funky alto sax. Tried and true, Maceo Parker is the funkiest horn player to have risen from the dawn of funk music. He has played with both James Brown, cutting a total of twelve albums with the Godfather of Soul including “Sex Machine,” and adhered to various syndicates of the first family of funk, Parliament-Funkadelic, for a total of ten albums including “Mothership Connection.” He first joined James Brown in 1964, and from then on was an integral player in defining and fostering funk’s sound. It’s even been written that between Maceo Parker and funk music it’s hard to discern which one came before the other—a living, breathing, chicken-or-egg paradox.
Following his success as music’s most important sideman, Maceo embraced a solo career and released his first album in 1989. His third solo release “Life on Planet Groove,” a live concert recording, became an instant favorite for funk fans. At the top of the album he addresses his audience with, “This is known as happy music. Happy music is when you hear it, you start moving and shaking something automatically.” Precisely the kind of energy one can expect from a Maceo Parker show. For music lovers, this show is a must see. For youngsters just beginning to grasp the thread of American music history, this show is a must see. Even pregnant mothers, do that fetus a favor. Your kid will thank you some day. (Jessica Burg)
March 1 at SPACE in Evanston, 1245 Chicago Avenue, (847)492-8860. 7pm and 9:30pm. $42-$62. All ages.