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Melvin Sparks: Legends of Acid Jazz: Melvin Sparks

Instrumental pop is cool, as long as the pop music you’re working with has some teeth to it. Prestige’s Legends of Acid Jazz: Melvin Sparks (Prestige PRCD 24171-2, 76:38) gets a lot of impetus from its choice of material, namely songs by Kool and the Gang, War and the Coasters. Sparks, like fellow stringsman Boogaloo Joe Jones, leans hard on soul-blues style burn, on covers of Kool’s “Whose Gonna Take the Weight,” “Conjunction Mars” and “Spark Plug” (the title track to one of the two Sparks recordings represented here). “Spark Plug” also features fine work from Grover Washington, Jr., while Houston Person and organist Leon Spencer add spice to a greasy cover of “Charlie Brown.”

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