Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 70

COLUMN Fretprints
his take on "Breezin'" that
unapologetically included
transplanted themes from
"Billie's Bounce," "Secret
Love," "St. Thomas," "Have
You Met Miss Jones," "William Tell Overture," "Surrey
with Fringe," "Oleo" and
"Straight No Chaser."
As a soloist, Sparks was a
three-finger player of single
notes, which places him in the
realm of Charlie Christian,
Wes Montgomery, Benson,
Howard Roberts, and a legion
of blues/rock guitarists. However, this preference is more
dramatic in a concert viewable
online where he executes long
streams of single notes as rapidly shifting slurs articulated
with fast alternate picking, and
often applies the technique to
facilitate inside-outside passages via side-slipping. He also
exploits quick ascending and
descending sweep arpeggios
and repeated ostinato licks
with rhythmic displacements.
The blues aspect of his improvisation contains idiomatic
blues-scale melodies, stylistic
string bends and vibrato,
triplet rhythms a la T-Bone,
Berry-inspired double-stops,
call-and-response phrases,
and a strong feeling for slow
blues and shuffle grooves.
Blues figures prominently
in Sparks' playing. Consider
the bebop-informed fusion
and blues rock in "I'm a Gittar
Player," a track distinguished
by his soulful vocals, grooveguided riffs, and solid pentatonic licks. Then listen to his
all-out Texas shuffle tour de
force on "All Day, All Night."
Sparks' Texas blues roots shine in "All Day, All
provising and makes use of familiar blues devices
Finally, check out his nouveauNight." This hard-swinging shuffle blues would
like string bending, vibrato, call-and-response
funk reinterpretation of "Get
sound at home in the songbooks of T-Bone,
phrasing, and repetitions. Notice his reference to
Down Tonite," with its blues
B.B., E.C. or SRV, and reveals another side of his
the groove's implicit triplet feel in the rolling blues
and rap elements. Moreover,
amalgam. It's a straightforward 12-bar blues in G
licks throughout, especially in the winding phrases
he could easily lapse into
begun with one of the most traditional intro themes
of measures 4-8. In 11, he colors the V chord, D7,
traditional country blues as
in history. Melvin sticks almost exclusively to the G
with a Cmaj7 arpeggio, a characteristic swingevidenced by his performance
minor-pentatonic and G Blues scales in his imblues extension straight from the heart of jazz.
of "A Bolt of Lightning."
Sparks was a master of funky
rhythm-guitar work as heard on "Who's Gonna his style and found its way into solos like that notes in the forms), allusions to the scratchy
Take the Weight" and sideman dates like Reuben on "Jiggy." His rhythm playing included partial "skank" style, and abundant left-hand muting
Wilson's The Cisco Kid. This became a staple of chords and dyads (often expanded with moving for a percussive effect.

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - Cover
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