VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
10 FEB 11 CHRIS SLAWECKI
In 1995, bandleader and timbales master Henry "Pucho" Brown called together the legendary forces of his Latin Soul Brothers for a reunion of their funky Latin jazz clan. Tracking time together in the studio, multi-percussionist Steve Berrios plus four other percussionists, Pucho on lead timbales, and a band including guitarist Melvin Sparks, ripped through Rip A Dip, the comeback album that Milestone released later that year.
Pucho most likely never put together a better program. Tunes by such jazz masters as Duke Ellington ("Caravan") and Miles Davis ("Milestones") percolate in the same pots as funk monsters James Brown ("Sex Machine") and Marvin Gaye ("Trouble Man"). The Soul Brothers simmer an "African Percussion Interlude" ("Zebula") with Pucho's thick, red-hot and rollicking Latin jazz sound ("Pucho's Descarga II" and "Mambo With Me"). "Greasy Greens" thumps out the heartbeat of classic '60s soul-jazz boogaloo, and serves up a tasty side dish to complement this hearty helping of Jack McDuff's funky "Hot Barbeque."
A vital piston in the engine that drives Concord's considerable soul-jazz catalog, Sparks tears into his solos in "Milestones" and "Slippin' Into Darkness" (War) and shreds them with long and colorful melodic lines. The guitarist's work as a leader is spotlighted on Legends Of Acid Jazz: Melvin Sparks (Prestige, 1996), and as a sideman on Charles Earland's 1969 classic Black Talk (now in the RVG Remaster series) and Hank Crawford's funk opus Down On The Deuce (OJC '97).