For a guy who has spent the bulk of his musical career as a sideman, bassist Ed Spargo has certainly cranked up the energy level on his work as a leader in 2006. Earlier this year he released Ed Spargo
, his second CD outing as a leader, after 1998's Invisible Man
(City Boy Records). With Playroom
, a top notch funk-based outing, the bassist/band leader's focus sharpens considerably.
The funk category seems a little confining, though. Spargo says his musical interest lies in fusing funk, Latin and mainstream jazz into his own personal sound, and he has indeed stirred up an engaging stew of those styles, with a very together quintet that infuses Spargo's compositions with an upbeat organic energy.
"Toy Box" has a elastic Latin vibe, with Don Govoni (tenor sax) sounding particularly inspired, cutting loose over the groove. The rhythm team of Spargo, drummer Tom Brechtlein and percussionist John LaMoia lets the sound breathe joyfully on a tune that should get just about anybody up and dancing. "Christina," a highlight, has a more mainstream feeling, with some delicately lush piano work by Steve Hunt, backed by the always adept Spargo's bass lines.
Ten of the eleven tunes here are Spargo originals, the one cover being guitarist Wes Montgomery's "Road Song," another highlight, that showcases Spargo's in-the-pocket bass lines and finds keyboardist Hunt adding a cool organ breeze to the bluesy groove.
This is an uplifting listening experience; the groove doesn't get much better.
Personnel: Ed Spargo: bass; Tom Brechtlein: drums; John LaMoia: percussion; Steve Hunt: keyboards; Dino Govoni: saxophones.