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Legends of Acid Jazz

Melvin SparksAudio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Price: $12.58 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 16, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Prestige
  • ASIN: B000000ZF6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,032 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Thank You
2. I Didn't Know What TIme It Was
3. Charlie Brown
4. The Stinker
5. Spill The Wine
6. Who's Gonna Take The Weight
7. Spark Plug
8. Conjunction Mars
9. Alone Together
10. Dig Dis

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
(5)
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you could only own one Melvin Sparks CD... June 25, 2004
Format:Audio CD
....this should be the one. Why? This recording from The Legends of Acid Jazz series is actually the first two Sparks albums (his eponymous debut and Sparkplug) in their entirety. For my ears, this is one of the high points in the whole genre of acid jazz or soul jazz.
The personnel on these early sides are outstanding. For the first album, Sparks was joined by Leon Spencer on the organ, Virgil Jones on the trumpet, John Manning on the tenor and Idris Muhammad on the drums. Houston Person sits in on Charlie Brown and The Stinker. For the Sparkplug date (Sparks' finest hour), he is again joined by Muhammad and Jones. Reggie Roberts mans the organ chair and a very young Grover Washington Jr. tears it up on the tenor.
The songs on the first date are all covers. All are very well done and several are very enjoyable. Sparks' solo on Thank You is outstanding.
But where this CD takes off is during the second session. From the very start of the Kool and the Gang cover, Who's Gonna Take the Weight to the end of Dig Dis we are in soul jazz heaven. Everybody takes tremendous solos but Sparks is the most exciting. He is one of those players whose solo logic sounds innovative and classic at the same time. It is almost as if you can hear his phrases and hooks becoming cliches for an army of imitators as the notes come off his guitar. I love the way this guy plays.
This type of music tends to get no respect from most critics. It is demeaned as formulaic, as easy listening, as the type of music that can be used for background music. Frequently soul jazz or acid jazz is exactly that. On the other hand, when in the right hands (e.g., Sparks or Grant Green or Grover Washington) it is also strong medicine for the soul.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No reviews???? November 20, 2000
Format:Audio CD
It's hard to believe no one has reviewed this title yet as it is one of the best of the series. Perhaps that's why, most people just know that it is.
The cover of 'Thank You...' is just great, so is the Kool and The Gang cover of 'Who's Gonna Take...'. Organist Leon Spencer is in a great form, just like drummer Idris Muhammad, trumpter Virgil Jones and the rest of this funky crew. There are only two mellow tunes: 'I Didn't Know What Time It Was' and 'Alone Together'. 'Dig Dis' is an exploratory little song, it's more jazzy than the rest of the CD. The remaining 60min is just straight ahead soul-jazz in the best imaginable way!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Grooves Galore! July 26, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I'd heard two or three different tunes by Melvin Sparks on various compilations in the past few years, all of which impressed me, so I thought it was time I hunted down a full CD by this guy. This compilation --- actually, two of his studio albums on one CD --- seemed like a good bet, and it certainly ended up being that and more. This CD is packed with tasty guitar playing and funky grooves galore!

The one reviewer who gave this CD a poor rating, complained that Sparks "never generates any excitement with his solos." I'm not exactly sure what sort of excitement he thinks is lacking, but Sparks sounds more than proficient on the guitar to my ears. Certainly, far from boring! No, he's not some sort of show-off guitarist who delights in playing tricky solos. Instead, he has the good sense to craftily work with the rest of the musicians in his band, creating a full musical tapestry. At various junctures in these songs I marvel not only at Sparks' guitar playing, but the keyboard work of Leon Spencer (check out his entry in this "Legends of Acid Jazz" series for more cool tunes!), the drumming of Idris Muhammed, and some fine sax playing by a young Grover Washington, Jr. These guys sound like a band that mesh well together.

These recordings, from 1970 and 1971, are well-played and exude an infectious, joyous spirit. From covers of tunes by Sly Stone, Kool & the Gang, and War, to pieces by Leon Spencer and originals by Sparks himself, this album flows and funks from start to finish. If you enjoy funky soul-jazz from the 1970s don't pass up on this excellent CD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent April 3, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
When I'm in the mood, I pull this one out now and then. It's a funky timeless piece for sure.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sparks is the weakest link. September 5, 2007
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of funky jazz (don't get me started on the phony marketing label "Acid Jazz"). Being a guitarist, I was looking forward to hearing this CD. Unfortunately, Melvin Sparks is a mediocre guitarist. He never generates any excitement with his solos and he doesn't have a good sense of how to develope a solo. As with a lot of CDs with a guitarists as the leader (check out Ronnie Earl as a good example) the guitarists is many times the least accomplished musician. On this CD the only impressive solos are by the sax players. If you want to hear some good funky jazz, try some of the early George Benson CDs. "Cookbook" is a good one, as are the ones he recorded with Brother Jack McDuff (Brother Jack blows the doors off of the organists on this CD). Don't worry, I'm not talking about the awful smooth jazz that Benson recorded when he decided to compromise his playing for a bigger pay day. His solos are technically good and they go somewhere, generating excitement and reaching climaxes.
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