Bobby Sparks II – Schizophrenia – The Yang Project (2019/2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:32:47 minutes | 1,72 GB | Genre: Jazz, Funk
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Leopard
Leaping twenty feet forward, this extraordinarily diverse collection of tunes captures the full range of keyboardist Bobby Sparks’ expansive vocabulary and inexhaustible spirit. From slamming funk to slow-grooving soul ballads to forays into straight ahead jazz, fusion, orchestral and world music, his aptly-titled Schizophrenia — The Yang Project covers a myriad of bases. On board the Battlespark Galactica for the exhilarating ride is a host of his Dallas homies as well as a parade of all-stars, including bassists Marcus Miller, Pino Palladino, MonoNeon and Hadrien Feraud, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, singers Frank McComb and James “J. Rob” Robinson, Snarky Puppy’s Michael League and Jason “JT” Thomas, guitarists Lucky Peterson and Eric Gales and drummers Mark Simmons, Brannen Temple and John “Li’l John” Roberts.
The influences of Bernie Worrell and P-Funk, George Duke, Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Dizzy Gillespie and other key figures in Sparks’ long musical journey come to bear on this ambitious project, his first as a leader.
Born to a musical family in Corsicana, Texas in 1973, Sparks was playing organ in the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church at age six. “My mother was a gospel organist and pianist at church, so she was showing me all of the popular church hymns of the day,” he recalls. “And then my daddy was pushing the jazz thing. He was a trumpeter and a straight bebop man. Dizzy Gillespie was his favorite trumpet player but he also loved Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Count Basie, so I grew up with all that music. Later on he turned me on to Miles Davis and would always play Kind of Blue for me. And he also turned me on to Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, which is how I learned to play organ. Also, my daddy was a big Albert King, Albert Collins, B.B. King and Freddie King guy. So he got me into the blues too.”
The Hammond B-3 organ that Sparks received from his parents on his sixth birthday, and which he still plays to this day, is just one of the many keyboards in his arsenal on Schizophrenia. 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 just love all of those keyboards from that era,” he says. “They just have a different character.” Those vintage keyboards, which helped Sparks forge a distinctive voice as a highly sought-after sideman and studio player, come to the forefront on Schizophrenia.
The opening cinematic fanfare, “Birth of the Sparkchild,” is a roll call of funk’s forefathers, from James Brown and Sly Stone to George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Johnny Guitar Watson, Rick James and Prince. The title track, powered by Snarky Puppy drummer Jason “JT” Thomas, features the rich, orchestral string arrangements of Dusseldorf native Simon Novsky, whom Sparks calls “the secret weapon of this project.”
1. Bobby Sparks II – Birth of the Sparkchild
2. Bobby Sparks II – Schizophrenia
3. Bobby Sparks II – We Play What We Want
4. Bobby Sparks II – Bobby Sparks Sr.’s Famous Chili
5. Bobby Sparks II – The Comanche Are Coming
6. Bobby Sparks II – So Fine
7. Bobby Sparks II – I Miss U
8. Bobby Sparks II – Black Man Running from the Police
9. Bobby Sparks II – Stono River
10. Bobby Sparks II – Lio Is Weird as Hell
11. Bobby Sparks II – All Mine
12. Bobby Sparks II – Let’s Take a Journey
13. Bobby Sparks II – Can We Make Love?
14. Bobby Sparks II – Too Late Now,Boss Man! (Interlude)
15. Bobby Sparks II – Islam (Hadjd from India)
16. Bobby Sparks II – Take It!
17. Bobby Sparks II – Zelin
18. Bobby Sparks II – Black Change
19. Bobby Sparks II – Mark vs. Simmons (A Secret Drum Story of Houston)