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Maceo Parker 

School's In!
(BHM)

The baddest alto sax in R&B/funk history is back (albeit on a German label). Maceo Parker, featured saxophonist in James Brown's great 1960s band, has crafted a classic-to-be platter of old-school, deep-groove-laden funk. Parker blows fierce and jubilant with his tastily tart, sinewy tone, while his touring band throws down an invigorating matrix of terse, rhythmic horn riffs, rippling bass, snapping drums, chunky guitar, and succulent, high-calorie Hammond.

On School's latter half, the jazz side of Maceo and company gets spotlighted -- Morris Hayes' graceful, lyrical piano (à la Herbie Hancock) in "Arts & Crafts," and Ron Tooley's energized, Miles-from-Dizzy muted trumpet squall in "Advanced Funk." Though never "retro," School's In has a curiously out-of-time feel, as if the past few decades never happened. There's nary a stylistic influence beyond the classic-funk epoch (1969-1975; the Meters, Funkadelic, War, etc.), with no concessions to contemporary trends beyond son Corey's rap on "What You Know About Funk?" A stone joy from beginning to end, School is a party waiting to happen.

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