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Melvin Sparks Band: What You Hear Is What You Get

Like ol’ fashioned American gospel, Melvin Sparks’ music immediately induces a good feeling. His countrified guitar plucking and greasy solos have become staples in the soul-jazz canon, and What You Hear Is What You Get proves that he still has the power to turn a session into a soulful revival.

Fronting a band consisting of alto saxophonist Joe Hrbek, organist George Papageorge, drummer Carter McLean and bassist Tim Luntzel, Sparks plays the testifyin’ preacher on a handful of originals that sound like old instrumental sermons lifted from some dusty soul-jazz bible. The horn riffs cut deep, the pumping organ and bass lines drive the groove with bristling intensity and Sparks does what he does best-give up the funk, blue-collar style.

Fellow soul-jazz legend organist Reuben Wilson guests on a couple of cuts with the laidback “Matter of Time” and the infectious “Get n’ It” showcasing his best performances on this date. The playing is excellent, throughout, but also like great gospel music, this music is best heard (and felt) live, when you sitting right in front of the preacher-man.

Originally Published