Melvin Sparks

Sparks!/Akilah

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Sparks! is a solid soul-jazz outing that looks to commercial material for the bulk of the set, but doesn't unduly compromise itself in a pop direction. Sparks was one of the bluesiest soul-jazz guitarists, and his tart tone shares space here with deep grooves from Leon Spencer on organ. The brass, handled by Virgil Jones (trumpet) Houston Person (tenor sax), and John Manning (tenor sax), is usually secondary to the guitar-organ riffs. Sparks remakes Sly Stone's "Thank You," and the Coasters' "Charlie Brown," and Eric Burdon & War's "Spill the Wine" as lengthy instrumentals -- commercial choices, to be sure, but executed with relaxed grit. Rounding out the program is a Rodgers-Hart cover and a Leon Spencer original. BGP's reissue also includes Sparks' 1973 effort Akilah.

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