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Gig Alert: Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, and Pee Wee Ellis

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, and Pee Wee Ellis
“Pass the Peas (Live)"
Playing Thursday at Town Hall
(123 W. 43rd St., Midtown West)
Get: Tickets ($40-$75) | Directions

It’s safe to say that no single horn section has defined the modern course of popular music as much as the James Brown horns.

Since the 1960s, alto saxophonist Maceo Parker, trombonist Fred Wesley and tenorman Pee Wee Ellis have been been putting the spunk in the funk, defining a horn sound that is big, brassy, bold and much-imitated. The horns were so good that they toured and released albums on their own as the J.B.’s (and later as the JB Horns), penning much-sampled instrumental funk classics such as “Doin’ It To Death,” and “Blow Your Head.”

On Thursday, in celebration of Pee Wee Ellis’ 70th Birthday, all three horn men will share the stage together as a cohesive act for the first time since the early '90s, backed up be a stellar rhythm section that includes bass whiz Christian McBride and jazz drummer Bill Stewart.

You can expect they’ll probably break out “Pass The Peas,” a 1972 J.B.’s hit and a funk jam staple eternally. This 12-minute live recording of the tune comes off Maceo Parker’s 1992 album “Life on Planet Groove,” and features all three horn players and oodles of impromptu onstage chants.

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