Melvin Sparks

'75

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While Melvin Sparks' earlier Eastbound album (1973's Texas Twister) had been a respectable mix of straight-ahead soul-jazz and soul-jazz with a funk edge, '75 sounds like a much more determined effort to get into the commercial funk-jazz mainstream. Unsurprisingly, as a consequence the music suffered, coming across as bland jazzy, largely instrumental mid-'70s soul-funk. A couple of tracks even go to the extent of including vocals by Jimmy Scott (not the same guy, from the sound of things, as the cult jazz singer Little Jimmy Scott), though neither he nor the songs are anything special. As further concessions toward commerciality, there are covers of the '60s soul hit "Mockingbird" and the '70s soul smash "Looking for a Love," along with some horn arrangements hinting at a background soundtrack ambience. Sparks does play all the guitar solos, but otherwise little of the identity he'd established with his prior soul-jazz releases comes through on this set of fairly languid, anonymous instrumentals.

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