Sunday, March 20, 2011

A week ago we lost Melvin Sparks

A week ago we lost MELVIN SPARKS.
Sparks was one of the FUNKIEST JAZZ guitarists I have ever heard.

He figures prominently on three of my favorite albums, "Everything I Play is Funky" by LOU DONALDSON and "Think!" and "Turning Point" by LONNIE SMITH.

Sparks died March 13 of complications from diabetes. He was 64.

A prolific artist, Sparks also played with Hank Crawford, Charles Earland, Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Reuben Wilson and others. Sparks recorded as a combo leader for Prestige, Savant and other labels, launching his solo career in 1970.

I am listening to Sparks' 1972 album "AKILAH!" while waiting for a trip to MADISON, WIS., and a dance competition featuring ANNIKA'S team.

"Akilah!" is as funky as jazz gets. Sparks is joined by the wickedly talented drummer Idris Muhammad and tenor saxophonist Frank Wess and altoist George Coleman, among others.

This album is a definite treat, and a fitting reminder of the talent lost when Sparks passed away.

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