Arcada Theatre; Vilar Performing Arts Center
St. Charles, IL; Beaver Creek, CO
February 12 & 18, 2011
2/12/11 By Barry Rosenberg / photo by Julie Collins
On a recent night in St. Charles, Illinois, Maceo Parker’s two sets felt like a real family affair, with the members of the band taking the stage one by one. It was a glorious gig, with the band receiving an enormous roar of applause at the beginning of the set and upon leaving the stage after their final song.It didn’t take long for the encore to turn into a real party; playing "Pass the Peas" will do that.
But what makes Maceo Parker stand out? Many acts can cause a party to manifest itself. On this night, it was not just the intensity of the musical ideas that seemed to be burning off of him, but the fact that they were played with a kind of sixth sense that allowed him to play the changes off the top of the modulation – more or less before it had even happened.
Parker is a legendary figure of funk. He has studied with and taught the best. His level of funk is the type many can only fathom ever being able to achieve. On this night, the music was moody – not just as in mysterious or calm, but moody as in that it filled all of the needs of funk. The soloists swung between musical extremes of soft/loud, high/low, sharp/smooth, and few notes/many notes. They never once lacked in the creation of intense drama. Each piece was full of great musical passages from every musician on stage. The longer a song was extended, more and more attention was given to extra development and drama, not just jamming for the sake of jam.
The melodic parts of each song were awesome and varied. Most were, of course funky, but also romantic and even a little angry. There was interesting yet simple counterpoint between the soloists, wherein the trumpet, trombone, and Maceo’s sax were in a constant battle for supremacy.
In summation, the show in its entirety was awesome in its scope and delivery. Parker’s music maintains a sense of prescience that both highlights its intensity and points to its relevance, not just up to now but for years to come. Love it, hate it, and debate it – Maceo Parker is an artist that simply must be heard.
2/18/11 by Jenna Stecker / photo By Zach Mahone
If there is one thing I love, it is music with soul. Having the opportunity to see Maceo Parker live and in such an intimate venue, the opportunity to clap and dance the night away was ripe.
Maceo brought a crew of talented musicians with him to Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center Performing Arts Center. While there is no bad seat in the house, Maceo did his best to bring the crowd to their feet and showed everyone some love.
After a half-century of performance, Maceo shows no signs of slowing down. His notes are precise. His dance moves are fluid and his energy ricocheted through the Vilar in a manner that was nothing short of infectious. As he played, bounced, and wiggled his was around the stage, one could almost envision Mr. Parker’s former band leader and eternal friend, The Godfather of Soul, inhabiting his body from time to time. The few that began the night swaying to the rhythm in the outer balconies would soon be joined by the audience in its entirety. The groove forced them to break free of any reservations and by the time that the second set began, a large majority of the concert goers had moved from the lower center of the venue to the upper and outer wings and balconies to boogie and dance the rest of the night away without disrupting the small remainder of patrons who remained seated.
At the close of the evening, Parker told the crowd "I love you and you and you." The feeling is mutual. Please just keep bringing those sexy saxophone tunes.