Minnesota's Tim Sparks, the 1993 National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion, has recently released At The Rebbe's Table, a wonderful fingerstyle CD, and Sparks' fifth recording. The album offers a surprising program of Jewish music from around the world, all produced and arranged by Sparks. Cyro Baptista lends some excellent percussion to the ethnic music, which features duo and complex band arrangements. Sparks playing is stirring and technically superb, as he embellishes the beautiful melodies with harmonies and a sense of excitement. One highlight on the CD is the title track; another is the rhythmically charged "Tartar Dance". The opening number "Returning From The River" sets the tone for the entire album; right off the bat you hear exotic melodies and near-telepathic harmonic/rhythmic interplay. At The Rebbe's Table is another top notch addition to Sparks discography - if you're a fingerstyle lover, seek it out.
Tim Sparks' long journey to the 1993 National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, and beyond, began modestly in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when he started picking out tunes by ear on an old Stella flat top. He later attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied with Segovia protegee Jesus Silva. Tim eventually relocated to Minnesota, where he soon established himself as a journeyman guitarist and session player. While recording three albums with the seminal vocal jazz ensemble Rio Nido, Tim also became proficient in jazz styles from Brazilian to Be Bop. A sojourn abroad inspired an interest in European and Mediterranean styles, particularly the music of the Balkans, culminating in the recording of Sparks' "Balkan Dreams Suite", a remarkable collection of odd-meter guitar arrangements.
In recent years, Sparks has been immersed in the ethnic music scene, performing on Oud in middle eastern ensembles, and accompanying on guitar in Greek and Klezmer orchestras. Last fall was spent studying Fado and Portuguese Guitar in Lisbon.
Frazee, MN 56544