The funk legend cooks up a storm of funk on his new album
The James Brown-style scream kicks off the album, but it could also be Parker's own reaction to cooking up an album that's so hot he burnt himself. For Parker getting scalded by music is something of an occupational hazard, Parliament-Funkadelicafterall he's worked with the genre's greatest exponents from Parliament-Funkadelic to Prince as well as the aforementioned Godfather of Soul.
Parker's first album in eight years brings in his own interpretation on classics like Dr John's Right Place, Wrong Time and Allen Toussaint's Yes We Can Can, to deeper cuts like Prince's The Other Side of the Pillow. We also get a reworking from Parkers's back catalogue. Cross the Track, (a penned by Brown and recorded as Maceo and The Macks ) gets a slick rearrangement that incorporates a fuller brass section. A handful of instrumentals are peppered throughout the album showing a flavour for the improvisation that Parker has employed over the years, even though the structure of the tracks are somewhat stylised and restrained.
Known for his 2% jazz 98% funk approach, Hard Times offers up a graveyard shift vibe of cool jazz that pays tribute to Ray Charles' saxophonist 'Flathead' Newman, before picking up the pace once more with a noteworthy cover of Aretha Franklin's Rock Steady.
Cooking with Maceo is ultimately a covers album which honours Parker's own influences. It's a gumbo of New Orleans jazz-funk and soul that is served with the suave sophistication you'd expect from a musician of Maceo Parker's calibre.