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98% Funky Stuff: My Life in Music

Maceo Parker

Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., June 21, 2013

Twisting by the Pool

98% Funky Stuff: My Life in Music

by Maceo Parker
Chicago Review Press, 208 pp., $24.95

"I just want you to blow, Maceo!" That was James Brown's exhortation to saxophonist Maceo Parker as he laid into his solo on the bandleader's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Not only is this 1965 smash often regarded as the birth of funk, it landed Parker on the musical map. The 70-year-old tenorman's slender memoir recalls his humble upbringing in Kinston, N.C. (where he still lives), his days marching in the college band, backing Marvin Gaye before either of them were household names, and stints with Brown, George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic, and Prince. His years with the Godfather of Soul get the most attention; otherwise Parker skims over most aspects of his career without going into the kind of detail you might expect from so rich a musical life. A recording session for Keith Richards' Talk Is Cheap, for instance, nets just one paragraph. One notable exception is a heartfelt shout-out to his legendary three-day gigs at Antone's.

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