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Melvin Sparks

Melvin Sparks

Melvin Sparks (March 22, 1946 – March 15, 2011) was an American soul jazz, hard bop and jazz blues guitarist. He recorded a number of albums for Prestige Records, later recording for Savant Records. He appeared on several recordings with musicians including Lou Donaldson, Sonny Stitt, Leon Spencer and Johnny Hammond Smith.Sparks was born in Houston, Texas, United States, and raised in a musical family. He received his first guitar at age 11. Sparks began working in the rhythm and blues genre as a high school student, first with Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, and then with the Upsetters, a touring band formed by Little Richard, which also backed Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye.Sparks moved to New York City and worked as a session musician for Blue Note and Prestige Records. As part of the burgeoning soul-jazz scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Sparks often backed organists like Jack McDuff, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Charles Earland. Sparks released his debut album, Sparks!, for Prestige in 1970.He was seen on Northeastern television commercials as the voice of Price Chopper's House of BBQ advertising campaign.Sparks died on March 15, 2011, at age 64, at his home in Mount Vernon, New York. He had diabetes and high blood pressure.As leaderSparks! (Prestige, 1970)Spark Plug (Prestige, 1971)Akilah! (Prestige, 1972)Texas Twister (Eastbound), 1973'75 (Westbound), 1974Sparkling (Muse), 1981I'm a Gittar Player (Cannonball), 1997What You Hear Is What You Get (Nectar), 2001It Is What It Is (Savant), 2004This Is It! (Savant), 2005Groove on Up (Savant), 2005As sidemanWith Henry "Pucho" BrownJungle Strut (Lexington), 1993Rip a Dip (Milestone), 1995With Rusty BryantSoul Liberation (Prestige, 1970)With Hank CrawfordIndigo Blue (Milestone), 1983Down on the Deuce (Milestone), 1984Roadside Symphony (Milestone), 1985Night Beat (Milestone), 1988South Central (Milestone), 1992Tight (Milestone), 1996After Dark (Milestone), 1998Crunch Time (Milestone), 1998The World of H.C. (Milestone), 2000With Dennis DayAll Things in Time (D-Day Media), 2008With Joey DeFrancescoAll in the Family (Highnote), 1998Plays Sinatra His Way (Highnote), 1998Hip Cake Walk (Highnote), 2000With Karl DensonDance Lesson No. 2 (Blue Note), 2001With Lou DonaldsonHot Dog (Blue Note), 1969Everything I Play Is Funky (Blue Note), 1969The Scorpion (Cadet, 1970)Cosmos (Blue Note, 1971)With Charles EarlandBlack Talk! (Prestige, 1969)Slammin' and Jammin' (Savant), 1997Cookin' with the Mighty Burner (Highnote), 1997With Ceasar FrazierHail Ceasar! (Eastbound), 1972With Red HollowayCoast to Coast (Milestone), 2003With Plas JohnsonKeep That Groove Going! (Milestone), 2000With Etta JonesIf You Could See Me Now (Muse), 1978With Charles KynardWa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People) (Prestige, 1970)With Ron LevyZim Zam Zoom: Acid Blues on B-3 (Bullseye Blues), 1996Voodoo Boogaloo (Levtronic), 2005With Johnny LytleGood Vibes (Muse), 1981Happy Ground (Muse), 1989With Jack McDuffDo It Now! (Atlantic, 1966)Double Barrelled Soul (Atlantic, 1967) - with David NewmanWith Jimmy McGriffCountdown (Milestone), 1983State of the Art (Milestone), 1985Blue to the Bone (Milestone), 1988McGriff Avenue (Milestone), 2001With Idris MuhammadBlack Rhythm Revolution! (Prestige, 1970)Peace and Rhythm (Prestige, 1971)With John PattonSoul Connection (Nilva), 1983With Houston PersonThe Nearness of You (Muse), 1977Heavy Juice (Muse), 1982We Owe It All for Love (Baseline), 1988With Sonny PhillipsBlack Magic (Prestige, 1970)Black on Black! (Prestige, 1970)With Bernard PurdieIn Tokyo (Lexington), 1993With Alvin QueenLenox and Seventh (Black and Blue), 1985With Rhoda ScottVery Saxy (Night and Day), 2004With Johnny HammondWild Horses Rock Steady (Kudu, 1971)With Lonnie SmithThink! (Blue Note, 1968)Turning Point (Blue Note, 1969)With Leon SpencerSneak Preview! (Prestige, 1970)Louisiana Slim (Prestige, 1971)Bad Walking Woman (Prestige, 1972)With Dakota StatonA Packet of Love Letters (Highnote), 1996With Tom "T Bone" StinsonOn Fire (Golden Zebra), 2004With Sonny StittTurn It On! (Prestige, 1971)Black Vibrations (Prestige, 1971)With Leon ThomasBluesband (Portrait), 1988With Reuben WilsonBlue Mode (Blue Note), 1969The Cisco Kid (Groove Merchant), 1974Down with It (Cannonball), 1998Fun House (Savant), 2004With Jimmy WitherspoonThe Blues Is Now (Verve), 1967

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