Melvin Sparks' latest solo project captures his live sound. It was recorded in December 2001 and features Melvin's latest touring unit. Six out of the nine tracks are written by Melvin. The special guests feature the old school master Reuben Wilson on several tracks, and the new school funkster Topaz. Its a celebration of the funk revival that has been happenning over the past few years.
Thanks to its pursuit of all things "groove" (and bold reissue programs of labels like Blue Note), the jam-band nation has strongly embraced the soul- and funk-infused jazz of the 1960s and 1970s. Thankfully, these fans, ostensibly rock fans, have been wise enough and fortunate enough to soak in the sounds of the genre's established masters. Guitarist Melvin Sparks was a vital player in the development of 1960s organ-driven soul jazz, appearing on classic recordings by Charles Earland
, Lou Donaldson
, Lonnie Smith
, Reuben Wilson
, and many others. Now in 2002, his career is thriving again thanks to his new exuberant audience, and--while some old-school jazzmen would be contemptuous of these voracious young fans--he's welcomed them and been inspired by them. Working here with an eager young band (as well as his old pal Wilson on three cuts), Sparks proves he hasn't lost a lick of his ability or his motivation, offering both propulsive rhythm work and sensational single-note flurries. The songs here are basic springboards for sharp, exciting improvisation, and the result is a joyous, relaxed recording sure to get rumps shaking and smiles flashing. --Marc Greilsamer