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Bobby Sparks

Jazz, Funk, Soul, Fusion
  • Bobby Sparks
    keys
  • Keith Anderson
    sax
  • Jay McK
    bass
  • Brannen Temple
    drums
  • James Robinson
    vocals
  • DJ Ernie G.
    turntables
Booking-territory: worldwide, travel party: 8

Till the sparks fly. Bobby Sparks II, is the man for the very solid funk sounds – in great demand when it comes to bringing a good portion of sharpness to the soul stage or the jazz studio. Keyboardist, composer, arranger and conceptual artist Bobby Sparks, known for his collaborations with the likes of Snarky Puppy, Lizz Wright, Marcus Miller, John Scofield and especially Michael League or many more, continues his mind-blowing releases with “Paranoia” (release May 6th 2022), the follow-up to 2019’s “Schizophrenia – The Yang Project”, also released by Leopard Records. “The Texan keyboard wizard […] with an intangible groove” –a quote by Westzeit. Welcome to the Funk Opera!

biography

Sparks was born in 1973 in Corsicana, Texas, into a musical family and was playing the organ at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church by the age of six. “My mom was a gospel organist and pianist at the church, so she showed me all the popular church songs of the day,” he recalls. “And then my dad pushed the jazz thing. He was a trumpet player and a pure bebop man. Dizzy Gillespie was his favorite trumpeter, but he also loved Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Count Basie, so I grew up listening to all that music. Later, he introduced me to Miles Davis and used to play Kind of Blue for me. He also introduced me to Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, and that’s how I learned to play the organ. Also, my daddy was a big fan of Albert King, Albert Collins, B.B. King and Freddie King. That’s how he got me interested in the blues, too.”

After high school, Sparks studied music at Eastfield College in Mesquite near Dallas. During that time, he met and joined Kirk Franklin’s gospel group. From 1992 to 2005, he worked as Franklin’s musical director, touring and contributing to albums such as Kirk Franklin & the Holy Family (1993), Nu Nation Project (1998) and the masterpiece The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin (2002). An in-demand session musician, Sparks has collaborated with gospel luminaries such as Fred Hammond, CeCe Winans and Donnie McClurkin, as well as artists from the jazz and R&B worlds such as Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Lalah Hathaway, Kirk Whalum, Les McCann, Natalie Cole and Nancy Wilson. He was a key member of trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s funk-jazz group RH Factor and contributed to the albums Hard Groove (2003), Strength (2004) and Distractions (2006). Since 2016, Sparks has been a regular member of the acclaimed jam band Snarky Puppy, with whom he can be heard on the 2016 Grammy-winning album Culcha Vulcha and the forthcoming 2019 album Immigrance. His first album as a leader, the 2019 release Schizophrenia: The Yang Project, featured contributions from Hargrove, Marcus Miller, Michael League of Snarky Puppy and many others.

The Hammond B-3 organ that Sparks received as a gift from his parents for his 16th birthday and still plays today is just one of the many keyboards in his current arsenal of instruments. He favors vintage gear, including the Mellotron 4000, Hohner D-6 Clavinet, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Mini-Moog, Oberheim OBXA, ARP Odyssey and Prophet-5, all of which had their heyday in the 1970s. I love all those keyboards from that era,” he says. “They just have a different character.” Those vintage keyboards, which helped Sparks achieve a distinctive voice as an in-demand sideman and studio musician, were used on Schizophrenia and now Paranoia.  – Bill Milkowski

review

About Bobby Sparks II “PARANOIA” Europe-Tour:

“Songs from that guest-laden release were in the mix, classic covers were radically reconstructed and invitees lined up to perform. Sparks, though, was the focus, conjuring a panoply of grooves from his arsenal of keyboards, and suavely orchestrating from within.” Financial Times

“At the center of the fullness is Sparks II as a juggler of skills: He controls the groove, the immense power and the fusion pathos of the music.” Jazzthing

 

About Bobby Sparks II “SCHIZOPHRENIA” Debut-Album:

“Finally someone shows us again how fat a SoulJazzFunk mixture can be, the Texan keyboard wizard drives the sweat by the liter on our twitching bodies with incredible groove, wide-legged guitar riffs and exotic sound spices. (…) A knockout!” Westzeit

“This incredible solo debut represents a complex black music opera in its large-scale execution. Orchestral moments alternate with pitch-black funk grooves, staged formidably by an all-star legion.” tonart

“The solo debut of keyboardist Bobby Sparks II is a huge grab bag, filled to the brim with curiosities of all kinds. It’s an opus magnum, a weird musical autobiography peppered with loud allusions and sound documents, an idiosyncratic tribute to the heroes of funk – which is not called “Schizophrenia” (…) for nothing.” Jazzthing

“A great debut from this musician” Concerto.

“It’s nice that such bold, off-the-mainstream album productions still exist.” eclipsed Rock Magazine

“A respect-heavy panopticon of current and classic styles of black music with an equally respect-heavy star lineup.” MINT

“Chic urban hipster jazz.” stereoplay

press

Till the sparks fly. Bobby Sparks II, is the man for the very solid funk sounds – in great demand when it comes to bringing a good portion of sharpness to the soul stage or the jazz studio. Keyboardist, composer, arranger and conceptual artist Bobby Sparks, known for his collaborations with the likes of Snarky Puppy, Lizz Wright, Marcus Miller, John Scofield and especially Michael League or many more, continues his mind-blowing releases with “Paranoia” (release May 6th 2022), the follow-up to 2019’s “Schizophrenia – The Yang Project”, also released by Leopard Records. “The Texan keyboard wizard […] with an intangible groove” –a quote by Westzeit. Welcome to the Funk Opera!

The new album is nothing but a masterpiece. For two hours and 20 minutes the Texan presents without interruption a firework of musicality, spontaneity, tremendous solos and great arrangements. Funk, rock, ballads and jazz are the components of this journey through the musical universe of Bobby Sparks II.

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