Maceo Parker Glasgow: The Arches, Thu 26 Nov; Edinburgh: Liquid Rooms, Fri 27 Nov.
Maceo Parker was simply stating the obvious when he chose the name Funkoverload for his first studio album since the mid 905. Despite the occasional excursion into more contemporary dance grooves and rap vocals, the music reflects the saxophonist's much- quoted dictum that what he lays on the masses is '2% jazz and 98% funkﬂ
Parker made his name in the white-hot glare of the 185, the legendary backing band whose driving rhythm section and big, fat horn sound ignited the touchpaper on James Brown’s frenetically funky soul sound. He joined in 1964 (initially on baritone sax), and had an on-off relationship with the singer which lasted a quarter- century, intercut with stints leading his own bands, and a four-year spell with George Clinton.
Parker’s style was firmly rooted in the music he grew up with in North Carolina, starting with a band with his brothers which played intermission sets at his uncle's gigs as the Blue Note Juniors. Signing up
Maceo Parker: his funk feels fine
with Brown, however, raised the funk quotient by a whole lot of notches.
’I had the best seat in the house, right there next to James, watching the people get so excited - pulling their hair, going into a frenzy, almost fainting,’ grins Parker. 'It seemed related to what went on in church, when people got religion and started pulling on their clothes and everything, and that was kinda confusing to me at first. But emotions can go that way, and it taught me the value of trying to make the people feel like they're part of the show. I want people to do more than just sit there and clap a little.‘
The saxophonist's final extended stint with Brown lasted from 1984 ('he called and said he needed me for a
couple of weeks’) until 1990, but the connections have remained strong in his music. His bands have regularly featured his 185 stablemates Pee Wee Ellis (tenor saxophone) and Fred Wesley (trombone), both players with a jazz as well as funk lineage, just as Parker himself owes allegiance to hard-blowing soul-jazz hornmen like Ray David 'Fathead' Newman, Hank Crawford, King Curtis, and Earl Bostic. The funk, though, is inbred.
’Funk is a feeling, and it lies primarily with the drums. I don’t know if you can learn it - I think you've gotta kind of feel it, you’ve gotta kind of have it or be born with it. What I like to do, and what I tell young musicians, is this — if it feels good, do it.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
CLASSICAL International Series
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Fri 21 Nov.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner: starts the International Series with a flourish
50 THE “ST 19 Nov—3 Dec 1998
Never a city short on style, Glasgow is now bringing glitz and glamour to the ears as well as the eyes, starting this month With the first of the Royal Concert Hall’s International Series. A series of ten concerts by big time classical stars such as the Kirov Opera, James Galway - celebrating his 60th birthday — and singers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, FeerIty Lott and Ann Murray, all its events are vrrtually guaranteed to be simply stunning.
’What we really want to do,’ explains the Hall’s Director and the series programmer, Louise Mitchell, 'rs to get the best international artists in the best performances with a reasonably good variety. We want to serve the people of Glasgow while also showing peOple that Glasgow is an important place to come and play.’
Programmed in such a way as to complement eXistrng musical activities in Glasgow by, for instance, the RSNO and the BBC SSO, the series opens with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
’The voice appears strongly as a thread running through the senes,’
says Mitchell, 'and although in London you can hear this particular type of concert most months, there is no-one d0ing this in Glasgow on a regular basrs.’
Endowed with a knighthood for his servrces to music in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Hon0urs list, Sir John wrll conduct the resplendent sounds of
Vivaldr's Gloria and Handel's Dixrt'
'We're very pleased to have someone of his status to give the Opening Concert,’ grins Mitchell. 'It Will be a superlativer performed programme.’
Not to mention the others which come after it, especially Neeme Jarvr, much loved former principal conductor of the RSNO, who appears With his own Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in May. ’He is important to Glasgow and to Scotland and doesn't come that often, so rt erI be really good to hear him with his own orchestra,’ comments Mitchell.
Add to that the fact that ticket prices have come down and the whole series becomes one not to be missed.
FOLK Songhunter Edinburgh: Bongo Club, Sun 22 Nov.
An exciting innovation at this summer's Highland Festival was the Songhunter series of concerts. The brainchild of the Glenuig-based songwriter, guitarist and recording artist Jim Hunter, the event asked songwriters in the Highlands to send in demos. Of the 400 received, a panel selected twenty songs which were performed by a seven-piece band of professronal musicians at the festival. Not only have the songs been made into an album which is to be launched at this year’s Celtic Connections but the Songhunter songs are to be performed in Edinburgh as part of Shoots and Roots, the reformatted Edinburgh Folk Festival.
While the songs are ’folk’ only in the broadest sense, and the seven-piece band, though full of top class musicians (including ex-Wolfstone guitarist Andy Murray) is a standard pop line up of bass, drums, keyboard, with guitars and vocals, Jim Hunter feels that what you’ll hear IS 'a sample of contemporary songwriting in the Highlands. We've arranged the songs , in ways we felt surted the lyric and the ' melody, in styles that range from rock numbers to acoustic ballads, things wrth a blues feel, and a little country. l Then there’s one Gaelic song, which we do in a current folky crossover style, sort of Capercaillre.’
The hardest part, he remembers, was whittling down the songs, although the judging panel did have a lot of fun ’Some songs came in wrth chords and lyrics, and no melody! We'd all try making one up. Others sent just the words. Sometimes just tunes. And the tape quality and performance varied a lot. There were some very professronal studio recording jobs —- but most were just recorded on a croftblaster in the , kitchen.’
But he ultimately feels strongly that ’we've tapped into something here. There are all these people writing songs — and what if they don't, say, have a great VOICC. It’s not like playing a fiddle or something in a session -- where do they get to perform? Where do you get to hear what they can do?’ ; (Norman Chalmers) i
9’ r ';"l.‘. '1: ‘ a, a
Jim Hunter: tracking down songs across the Highlands