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What You Hear Is What You Get

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 22, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Another Joe
  2. What You Hear Is What You Get
  3. The Governor
  4. Funky Good Time
  5. Turn n' Point
  6. Matter of Time
  7. Get n' It
  8. Money
  9. Breez

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 22, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: March 22, 2002
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • ASIN: B0000696HT
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #807,108 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
For the first time in Melvin Sparks' long and illustrious career, he is in charge of his music. Highly unusual in the music industry, What You Hear is What You Get is a project that Melvin has had full artistic and economic control of from the beginning. The results are as pure as the intention. Boogaloo, funk and groove from way back is what you hear, and a truly unique musical experience is what you get.
In the 1970s Melvin played with such jazz greats as Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff and Lou Donaldson. Back then he was a "session player," receiving a flat fee for his recordings - no royalties or kickbacks regardless of how popular his songs would later become. Now 56 years old, Melvin's sound can be held responsible for much of the jamband phenomena occurring today. Bands like Greyboy Allstars who helped to revive acid jazz in the late 1990s can be linked back to the intense and quick-paced riffs of Melvin's guitars.
From 1996 to 1998 Melvin played often with the Greyboy Allstars, redefining jazz and funk as it entered the 21st century. With over 120 joint recordings and 8 solo projects under his belt, Melvin decided in 2001 that it was time to make his own music again. Recorded in just three days outside of New York City in December of 2001, What You Hear is What You Get was born. This endeavor could mark the first time in Melvin's 30-plus year career that he might actually reap the benefits of his timeless yet everchanging musical contributions.
This album experiments with rock and roll, blues, jazz, boogaloo, funk and soul all in under an hour. The talent that Melvin has gathered to make this small piece of musical history blends traditional jazz legends with new artists like Topaz, the up and coming Tenor saxophonist from NYC.
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By A Customer on June 25, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I discovered Melvin about 3 years ago, and I cannot believe that it has taken me so long. His blues/jazz/funk grooves hit deep into my soul. He is great live (if you are lucky enough), but this recording captures the current band very well. In addition to Melvin's great solos and stirring rhythm guitar, the sax and organ work is also outstanding. There is a reason that Karl Denson and George Benson tip their hats to Melvin: he is a true master in our midst who is relatively unknown. Catch him now before he either retires (please no) or he is too popular (long overdue). Well done, Melvin.
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