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Melvin Sparks: I’m a Gittar Player

Guitarist Melvin Sparks’ l’m a ‘Gittar’ Player (Cannonball, CBD 27101, 48:48) is a breezy showcase for the legendary session player. Rare groove heads have undoubtedly heard Sparks’ guitar work somewhere, if not on Charles Earland’s classic Black Talk, then with Lou Donaldson on Everything I Play Is Funky (or on several of Fantasy’s re-issued “Legends of Acid Jazz” series). This date features input from former B.B. King and Roomful of Blues organist Ron Levy (who also produced the date), George Benson bassist Stanley Banks, percussionist Pucho (of the Latin Soul Brothers), and drummer Idris Muhammad, who provide the Texas-born stringsman with a medium-spicy groove sauce for his meaty jazz-blues riffing. While the disc-ending version of K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonite,” with its misplaced rap and Sparks’ clunky vocals (now you understand the album title) misses the mark, other tunes give Sparks plenty of room to stretch out-check out the Steely Dan-ish blues of the title track, and the organ-powered lope of “Sparkling.”

Originally Published