Maceo Parker & Euforquestra 2.22.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel

Although it's spelled oddly, Euforquestra was meant to be a contraction of euphoria and orchestra. Keeping that in mind made it much easier for me to pronounce. They were as advertised... a small orchestra devoted to your own euphoric listening experience. Friday was their first show with special guest saxophonist, the Motet's Matt Pitts. His playing was stellar and seemed to kick the band up a notch as they successfully tackled Bowie's "Let's Dance", Beck's "Nausea", and Lettuce's "Madison Square." Each were played with a combination of excellent reproduction and pioneering jams. During "Let's Dance," I was amazed at the drums and percussion which nailed every nuance of the rhythm. They just generally played an upbeat, joyous, party of a set that was worth the price of admission alone. Me? Fan.

With a considerable percentage of Denver's "hippies" in Broomfield for Furthur, the jazz crowd seemed to stretch their legs at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom. Maceo's band got the music started with Blue Note exactitude and got the room moving before they announced Parker's entrance. Having never seen Maceo before, I was excited to hear a man who has worked with James Brown, PFunk, Ray Charles, De La Soul, Dave Matthews, Jane's Addiction and Prince. Maceo was a bridge traversing jazz and funk. He created shades of jazz, soul and all things funk. From the more traditional James Brown style through the dirty sub-aquatic, psychedelic funk reminiscent of George Clinton and company, watching Maceo's band was like a musical history lesson. Maceo's nephew laid beats that popped like Orville Redenbacher and Will Boulware tickled the ivories in time with Rodney Curtis's bouncing bass. Maceo danced about the stage like Heathcliff Huxtable as he took the time to highlight each of the musicians. Guitarist, Bruno Speight played succinct, clean rhythms throughout the night and used his solo opportunities to light up mode after mode of impressive scale work. His trombone player had soul, flair, funk and was the icing on Maceo's cake.

Everyone in his band was professional, talented, sharp and cool like the breeze. I could tell their joy in playing music rivaled our joy in listening. Their smiling and dancing matched the music's energy and inspired the crowd to join in the fun. When Maceo took the spotlight, his solos were silky, accentuating, aerodynamic, clean, reliable, profound and luminescent. He was nimble, agile, and made me think of a dirt-bike skirting gridlock, weaving in and out of a traffic jam. Perpetual. Kinetic. Fluid. The lighting designer played with softer lighting that made me feel like I was in a jazz club from the 70's. The packed house responded by applauding solos as they passed and dancing the night away. Maceo took a moment to let his background singer rap, and then spit a little of "Gone til November," himself. He also took time to honor Ray Charles, something he does at every show. Comparable to former bandmate Bernie Worrell, Parker has a resume that includes so many legendary acts it is hard to comprehend. Sought after by many of the best, he inspired the Godfather, James Brown, to coin the phrase, "Maceo, I want you to blow"... And if James Brown wanted you to do something, you could bet on two things: One, he had confidence in your abilities and two, you had better do what he said... well. Now that I've seen him, I understand why James Brown wanted Maceo to blow... He probably liked listening to him as much as we do.

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