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Melvin Sparks: This Is It!

A soul-jazz pioneer and godfather of the ’90s acid-jazz scene, Sparks brings his clean articulation and bluesy expression to a program of accessible, organ-fueled grooves and catchy boogaloos. A fluent and funky player, Sparks ignites single-note lines on tunes like the upbeat “Watch Yo’ Step” and “The Light Is On,” which recalls Grant Green’s latter-day experiments in more commercial surroundings.

Sparks plays it simple and sticks strictly to the melody on the title track while his groove-oriented cover of Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl” is imbued with earthy bent-string embellishments and the occasional runs up and down the neck. And while some tunes, like the breezy Latin-flavored “Heavy Fallin’ Out,” are delivered with a polite touch, Sparks opens up and blows with gritty abandon on spirited numbers like the bluesy, horn-powered “Bounce,” the rowdy “Bambu” and the rousing closer, a cover of Jack McDuff’s “Hot Barbecue.” Nothing but a funky good time.

Originally Published