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Groove On Up by Melvin Sparks

Guitarist Melvin Sparks is a living legend, acclaimed for his jazz/soul/funk chops, hearkening back to the days when he performed with sax titan Lou Donaldson and a litany of other jazz notables. On this newly released studio set, the guitarist conjures up cheery ramifications via his articulately generated single-note flurries and tuneful themes, such as the alluring and radio-friendly opener "MyKia’s Dance." It’s all about the groove, indeed!

Sparks rides atop hot n’ spicy, groove-laden back-beats and catchy hooks to exemplify his outward purveyance of good cheer. His effervescent rhythmic voicings offer a mini-clinic for soul-jazz wannabes. With master chops, Sparks’ palette is partly steeped within a retro vibe, witnessed on the 60s Motown-ish piece "Ooh Girl," where Nikki Armstrong and Oscar Wright engage in sleek, verse-chorus vocals. Otherwise, the guitarist quotes Chuck Berry’s "Johnny B Goode" riff during his solo on the up-tempo blues-rock composition "If It Don’t Fit (Don’t Force It)."

Some of the intentional schmaltz works wonders here! But it’s Sparks’ ability to acutely intertwine his masterful technique with a good-timey persona. It all stacks up rather nicely and looms as a determining factor as to why I cannot seem to hit my CD player’s eject button. Sustainable gratification is the key here!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Melvin Sparks
  • CD Title: Groove On Up
  • Genre: Soul / Funk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Savant
  • Rating: Four Stars
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