Maceo Parker/Lettuce: Brooklyn Masonic Temple, Brooklyn, NY 6/18/08

“2 percent jazz and 98 percent funky stuff.” That’s the preferred musical formula Maceo Parker proclaimed on his 1992 album Life on Planet Groove, and it certainly sums up his performance at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, as well as that of the opening band, Lettuce. While the show was officially part of the JVC Jazz Festival, it came closer to approximating Maceo’s funky number. The acoustics of the venue misdirected much of the precision, spreading the sound across the room in a muddy haze, but diligent listeners were rewarded with a typically potent set from both bands.

Lettuce opened with “Blast Off,” the lead track on this year’s outstanding album, RAGE! The remainder of the set featured more material from the new album, including “Sam Huff’s Flying Rage Machine” and “Need to Understand,” as well as spirited renditions of the soul-inflected “Makin’ My Way Back Home” and the Curtis Mayfield classic “Move On Up,” always a crowd pleaser. The set ended with the razor-sharp cascading horns of “Last Suppit,” including a fiery solo from guitarist Eric Krasno that got somewhat buried in the mix.

Sporting their semi-formal best, Maceo’s band took a cue from his former employer, James Brown, leading the sax-man’s entrance with a quick, sweaty workout, “Funky Fiesta.” After the trombone and trumpet players entered, Maceo was brought on as “the funkiest saxophone player in the world.” He proceeded to back up that claim, lacing the set with quick, short bursts that appropriately filled the spaces in the thick groove. His greatest strength lies in his ability to properly place and punctuate notes within the melody, and the 90-minute set delivered on the promise made during one of the first songs, “We’re Gonna Make It Funky.”

A couple tepid ballads did little to diminish the energy of the crowd, who surely appreciated the pairing of one of funk’s elder statesmen with a band that’s proving to be the new-school leader in throwback, soulful funk

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