Live at Nectar's

A 9 track soul jazz album (1h 11m 44s) — released April 28th 2017 on One Note Records

Until he was about 20, Texas-born Melvin Sparks was a rhythm & blues guitarist, backing Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye as a member of The Upsetters. But Sparks gave up his seat on The Upsetters' bus in New York City, where a chance introduction to George Benson led him to a place in soul jazz history. Melvin played and recorded with Lou Donaldson, Leon Spencer, Bernard Purdie, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Idris Muhammad, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Charles Earland, Grover Washington Jr., Reuben Wilson and so many more. Even during the quietest years of soul-jazz Melvin stayed relevant through hip-hop and r&b; a quick search at WhoSampled turns up more than 150 samples of his funky chicken scratch. And Melvin's legacy is heard in contemporary soul/funk bands like The New Mastersounds, Soulive and The Greyboy Allstars, all of whom he also guested with several times before his early departure from this realm in 2011.

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.

“…a master class in cooking with gas, groove and soul.” -

Modern-day fans of bands like The New Mastersounds, Soulive and other current purveyors of the timeless style owe it to themselves to seek out this tasty live date featuring veteran rhythm guitarist Sparks with a stellar band - Blurt Magazine

“The sound on this album is fantastic, and the soul-jazz is just the way it was back in the early 1970s. It has heat, energy and lots of soul.” - Jazzwax

“His tone is captivating, irresistible and joyful.” -

“His absence elicits feelings of sadness but you can only be uplifted and overjoyed when you hear Live At Nectar’s.” - Tahoe Onstage

  • Kudos happily ship all items worldwide.
  • Shipping costs and delivery times are available here.
  • UK items are sent tracked as standard at no extra cost.
  • We aim to dispatch orders placed before 2pm on the same day.
  • We are unable to ship orders on weekends or Bank Holidays.
  • If you purchase a pre-order item amongst an order of in-stock releases, we will typically hold your order until all items are in ready to send.
  • Although we use all reasonable means to ensure that your order is delivered within a specified time, we cannot accept any responsibility for late deliveries due to circumstances outside of our control. We will do our best to inform you of any unexpected delay.