Melvin SparksLive At Nectar's
This release documents Melvin's final band just months before his death. Organist Beau Sasser and drummer Bill Carbone had been working with Sparks for several years, and, despite the power dynamic - they were in their early 30s, Melvin an elder-statesmen of the genre - the unit was sharp, relaxed and performed Melvin's music with a jovial spirit. The trio played the Burlington, VT club Nectar's regularly, but this night featured two "onlys." Per the recommendation of Nectar's agent they used the "Grippo Horns," the only time Sparks used a horn section in the last several years of his life, and they allowed a multitrack recording of the show. Both were strong decisions.
The tracks on this album, lovingly mixed by guitarist, producer and Melvin Sparks fan Eddie Roberts, demonstrate that Melvin played as well in the final months of his life as at any time. Sparks counts "Whip! Whop!" off at what he said The Upsetters called a "showtime tempo," and peppers it, as well as most of the album, with quotes from jazz standards, pop songs and cartoon themes, all woven effortlessly into the bebop-funk dialect he helped create. He unfolds amiable melodies, patiently and methodically, through his several-minute lead on "Breezin'." And Sparks is audibly uplifted by the Grippo Horns helping him perform his 1973 arrangement of "Ain't No Woman" for the first time in decades.