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Maceo Parker’s Ray Charles tribute ‘To Ray with Love’, Oct. 19

The 2017/18 Swinging Jazz series at VPAC (The Soraya) kicks off when American funk maestro Maceo Parker takes to the stage

Compton Herald | ‘To Ray with Love’

Ray Charles tribute ‘To Ray with Love’ stars Maceo Parker and The Original Ray Charles Orchestra and The Raelettes

LOS ANGELES – The 2017/18 Swinging Jazz series at VPAC (The Soraya) kicks off when American funk maestro Maceo Parker takes to the stage for an unforgettable tribute to the great Ray Charles on Thurs., Oct. 19 at 8p.m.

In the fall of 1963, Parker was standing out the back of The Coliseum in Greensboro’, N.C., waiting to catch a glimpse of anyone from the band. After only seeing strangers, the band eventually spilled n out followed, finally, by the man himself, Ray Charles. The awestruck young saxophonist muttered to himself “One of these days you’re all gonna know me!” Now, over half a century later, Parker brings it full circle as he performs with the original 21-piece Ray Charles Orchestra and The Raelettes, Ray’s female backing vocalists who sang with him all those years ago.

“Maceo Parker’s ‘To Ray with Love’ is the perfect start to The Soraya’s Swinging Jazz series,” said Thor Steingraber, executive director of the VPAC. “Parker is the first of several American jazz, and indeed the first funk masters who will grace our stage this year.”

Parker is one of the founding fathers of funk and Charles’ music has remained an undeniable influence throughout his career. Maceo has included a Ray Charles cover on each one of his albums and in 1993/94 the two icons toured with Parker serving as the opening act for one of his idols.

Charles pioneered soul music by combining gospel’s fervor with the secular lyrics and narratives of blues and country along with the big band elements of jazz and the rhythms and improvisational opportunities that they all offered. His music was both sophisticated and spontaneous, and over the course of his 50-year career he penned dozens of hits including “Unchain My Heart,” “Hit the Road Jack” and “Georgia on My Mind.”

Parker said that “Ray really lived what he was singing, that soul thing. And that’s what I try to do with my playing – get close to that. But whoa, I never dreamed that I’d work with his band.”

In an article with Billboard, Maceo called performing with the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raelettes, “a dream come true.”

Parker is perhaps best known for his work with James Brown, who he performed with for almost two decades. Parker’s signature style helped define Brown’s brand of funk. “Maceo, I want you to blow!” goes the well-known cue for Parker to blast his unique sound into the show, a sound that has seen Maceo become the world’s most sampled musician.

In the mid ‘70’s Parker hooked up with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. From the breathtaking shows of JB to the landing of the Mothership, Parker has been stamping his mark on some of the most exciting and memorable moments in musical history. Parker’s work with George Clinton led him to play on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sophomore album, Freaky Styley, and he has since worked with other reputable artists including Ani DiFranco, James Taylor, De La Soul and Dave Matthews Band. From 1999 Maceo also toured extensively with Prince.

In July of 2012 Maceo was presented with Les Victoires du Jazz in Paris: a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to music. The same weekend he was presented with an Icon Award at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam. He received the North Carolina National Heritage Award from his home state in May 2016.

READ ALSO: CSUN Names the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts

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