As I approached Campbell Hall, I knew that I was in for a treat. Clusters of excited fans gathered at the steps to the lecture hall, clasping their tickets and engaging in animated chatter about the upcoming performance. Settling into my seat, I soon realized that I was surrounded by not only fans, but by a wide array of accomplished musicians. Behind me sat a man who was an electronic/hip hop music producer who had just completed a music archive project that intersected environmental sustainability with the soundtrack of old-school funk and jazz. In front of me was a married couple of classical concert pianists who exchanged tender murmurs of excitement as the lights came down. "He's the real thing," they whispered. And then it started. Coming on stage, with a personality that filled up the lecture hall of 860 seats to the brim. The epitome of cool, he danced and jived all through the set and when he played his infamous instrument of choice, the seductive and powerful sax, there was no one in the lecture hall who wasn't moving right along. It was time, as he said, to get funky. Every solo elicited a holler from the audience members, every little dance a grin. The performance was like nothing I had ever seen. More than two hours of pure, unadulterated music (and don't let Maceo Parker hear you call it your mama's jazz!). This was prime, old-school, full-throttle funk. Fresh off a tour that has taken him everywhere from Moscow to San Francisco, Maceo Parker has been keeping funk alive for over twenty years, collaborating with a diverse set of artists such as Ray Charles, Dave Matthews, and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Weaving in songs and riffs from classic motown, R&B and soul, Parker demonstrated the absolute breadth and musical aptitude that he can incorporate into this established genre. This sentiment was only amplified by the immensely talented musicians that he surrounded himself with on stage (which he introduced with James Brown-esque zest and humor). A throwback to the glory days of funk and a harbinger of the many golden days to come, it reminds us that his catchphrase of "2% jazz, 98% funk" still rings true. And that's 100% okay with me.
Keep gettin' yo funk on,