Forgotten series: The JB Horns – Funky Good Time/Live (1993)

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by Nick DeRiso

Maceo Parker — leader of the ferocious JB Horns, James Brown‘s band and musical backbone back in the day — once put it all in perspective, introducing a song from the stage: “We like to play two percent jazz … and 98 percent funky stuff.”

The JBs later took off on their own, recording some terrific solo albums (altoist Parker’s aforementioned “Life on Planet Groove,” baritone saxist Pee Wee Ellis’ “Blues Mission,” bone player Fred Wesley’s “Comme Si, Comme Sa”). Lost somewhere along the way, however, was this collaborative effort, the aptly titled “Funky Good Time/Live” on Gramavision.

Recorded in Japan, the propulsion here in undeniable. These three guys have been playing together for so long, it’s like brothers finishing sentences for one another. And I love a live soul album, if only because the crowd becomes another growling instrument. Folks howl and grimace, they whoop and hoot — as, frankly, do these still-rocking JB Horns.

Everybody gets their solo turn, too: Pee Wee on the excellent “Blues for a L.S.,” Fred on “House Party” and Maceo on “Children’s World.”

But, it’s the arm-in-arm revelry of the full-band tunes — horns tastefully basting each — that makes this such a funky find. Highlights, no surprise, are several songs from the James Brown era — including the title cut, and “Soul Power.”

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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