Saxophonist Maceo Parker pioneered the sounds of funk and soul in the 1960s as the high-profile sideman to the legendary James Brown. He has since established a solo career that embraces not only that seminal funk sound but also jazz, R&B and more. He first encountered the WDR Big Band in 2008 with a Ray Charles tribute and a collection of his own material in rich big band arrangements. Parker reunites with the band for "Soul Classics", a collection of nine songs recorded live at a jazz festival in Germany last year. The new recording captures Parker and special guests in collaboration with the Cologne-based 15-piece orchestra led by conductor/arranger Michael Abene.
Assimilating the sounds of jazz's greatest composers to masterfully create a voice all his own, the veteran composer, alto saxophonist and bandleader Steve Williams takes his Washington, DC-based big band through a tradition-drenched yet thoroughly modern set of original compositions on "Steve Williams & Jazz Nation." Former music director of the U.S. Navy Commodores, Williams has also been a member of the Afro Bop Alliance, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the famed One O'Clock Band from North Texas State. Along with special guest, the mighty Eddie Daniels, Williams and the band not only prove that big bands are alive and well, but also exciting, creative and inspired.