Album Review: Maceo Parker – Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo

Fans of Maceo have had a whole 8 years to wait for his latest studio album. Well let me tell you I don’t think they will be disappointed. Soul Food – Cooking with Maceo serves up a nourishing, all you can eat buffet of classics and originals infused with New Orleans Funk.

‘Cross The Track’, a back catalogue classic, sets the albums tone with these seriously monster musicians grooving so effortlessly. That laid back New Orleans vibe but yet also full to the brim with an exuberant energy. Maceo’s solo on this track an absolute masterclass for any budding saxophonist, specifically on motivic development, leaving just enough space between those tight syncopated lines of his to keep us eager for more. Superbly complimented by the all star band in particularly the machine gun like snare drum of Nikki Glaspie possibly best known for touring the world with Beyonce’s all woman backup band.

The forth track of the album M A C E O is a slick seventies cop show style instrumental. You really get a sense of the musicians letting loose, with the rhythm section hammering along like a locomotive steam train – to quote a musician friend, “The most fun you can have with your pants on”

‘Hard Times’ is a beautifully melodic piece penned by David “fathead” Newman. Maceo’s playing here takes the listener on a wonderful journey, weaving glassy lines over a simmering organ, under pinned by great gospel chord changes.

The Dr John and Meters covers ‘Right Place Wrong Time’ and ‘Just Kissed My Baby’ don’t particularly provide us with a hugely different take when compared to the original recordings but nevertheless certainly do these classics justice in classic “If it ain’t broke” style.

The penultimate track sees us winding down with the the Prince song ‘Other Side Of The Pillow’ Seriously smooth and sultry just the way the purple one would have liked it. Maceos playing is once again exemplary, but its aided and abetted by the vocals on this track. So rich, warm and overflowing with authentic New Orleans soul.

This album ticks all the boxes for any funk fan. Varied grooves, top players, covers, originals, vocals and instrumentals to keep the listener really hooked from start to finish. It also has an album feel which can be a rare thing indeed these days rather than just sounding like a collection of tunes. Excitement and dynamics of a live show yet on a studio album. Hat off to producer Eli Wof and Andrew (Goat) Gilchirist for capturing the performance of the musicians in this way. ‘Soul Food’ really is food for the soul.

Soul Food – Cooking with Maceo is out now via The Funk Garage

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