Maceo Parker's new album was made from live performances with the WDR Big Band Cologne, conducted by Michael Abene.
When James Brown's funky horn section got cooking, the Godfather of Soul would call for a solo. There was one name he called most of all:
Saxophonist Maceo Parker says people still greet him by shouting, "Maceo!"
"It happens all the time," he says. "Yeah, with the 'Good God,' and 'Eee!' and all that. And sometimes they expect me to fall down on my knees, while they can put their overcoat over my shoulders, you know, [to] stand on."
Since working with James Brown, the saxophonist has gone on to make quite a name for himself, playing with a wide range of artists, including George Clinton, Prince, Bryan Ferry, Keith Richards, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Parker also launched a solo career: His latest album is a two-disc set called Roots & Grooves, recorded live with the WDR Big Band. He spoke with Michele Norris about the new recording.
Parker says that his musical roots began at the keyboard, but quickly progressed from there.
"But then I remember being very, very, very excited about my first parade," he says. "You know, the fanfare of all the horns and drums and just noise. You know, uniforms and majorettes and all that stuff."
The saxophone section caught his attention, and Parker hasn't looked back. But on Roots & Grooves, he dedicates the first disc as a tribute to one of his early influences: Ray Charles.
"We went absolutely crazy," Parker says, recalling the time he first heard Charles. "I mean, absolutely crazy. It was easy for me to hear him. And what I mean by that is, I could almost hear his feelings when he sang. Every time he released an album, I'd get it."
The second disc of Roots & Grooves is called "Back to Funk," and features a variety of beat-heavy jams. Now 65, Parker says he still feels drawn to funk and soul music.
"Well, I just discovered, you know, once I sort of searched my soul, and my inner self, and what I'm about: It's very easy for me to hear funky lines."