Maceo Parker's School's In! is a very likable disc with quite a bit going for it. The album has a conceptual base, but one that is pleasantly light and whimsical; the collection's ten tracks all revolve around themes of school and, whether they are Parker originals like "Basic Funk: 101" and "Advanced Funk" or appropriate classics like the Jackson Five's "ABC" and Sam Cooke's "What a Wonderful World." The sometimes lengthly funk workouts all come about their groove naturally, rather refreshing in this era of electronic beats. Nice to see somebody is still giving the drummer some in 2005. Which leads me to the real strength of the set: its leader, alto saxophonist Maceo Parker, who is in fine form on this recent recording.
Parker, of course, first came to prominence with James Brown and later Parliament/Funkadelic. Though he did some work on the side as far back as during his tenure with Brown in the early 70s, the last decade and a half have really seen Maceo Parker come into his own as a solo artist. While School's In! has a strong improvisational base, this date favors the kind of raw funk that made Maceo a household name rather than the bebop he sometimes records. Most of the tracks feature vocals--there's even a little rap from Maceo's son--and all of them should make you want to move your feet. Want the funk? Gotta have that funk? Here it is.