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Genre: Blues/R&B, Jazz

Website: http://www.edspargo.com


This artist currently has no songs to listen to.


Ed Spargo named his debut album Invisible Man. That was Ed's way of describing the role he's performed for much of the past 20 years - invisible, but not inaudible, supporting some of the brightest New Englandbased blues, jazz and roots stars. Ed's supple bass playing has been a vital part of the music of Toni Lynn Washington, Johnny A, Greg Piccolo, Michelle Willson, Bruce Katz, Julien Kasper and many others.

Although Ed's bold tone and melodic style of propulsion have kept him in demand as a sideman, recording and touring the US and Europe, 1998's Invisible Man announced his skill as a composer. Versatile and exploratory, the CD traveled from jazz to pop to R&B to blues effortlessly, paralleling Ed's flexible approach on bass as well as the wide-ranging territory of his career.

But Ed's new album, simply titled Ed Spargo, is more than a showcase for his abilities: it's the sound of an artist coming into his own. On Ed Spargo's eight compositions, the bass virtuoso defines his own distinctive take on classic jazz fusion.

"My overall concept is to blur the lines between the three styles of music I love the most: Latin jazz, straightahead jazz and funk," Spargo explains. "I strive to play all three styles authentically, and they lend themselves to developing harmonic ideas and improvisation, and have very direct melodies, so there's plenty of fuel for me as a composer and performer."

You may hear the influence of other great contemporary bassists like John Pattitucci, Anthony Jackson and Oscar Stagnaro (with whom Ed studied) in Ed's richly expressive playing on tunes like "To the Max" and "Visible Man," but the CD's dynamic sensibilities, melodic flights and daring interplay are all Ed's design.

"When I made Invisible Man, I recorded with musicians who were my friends and who were available," he explains. "This time I built the album around a few very deliberately chosen trios and quartets. Writing for that format allows enough space for everybody to be heard and for a lot of improvisation.

"It was especially important for me to play with the same drummer, so I chose my good friend Zac Casher, who I've known since I was in high school in Rhode Island. That created a more unified sound, and since we have a common vocabulary as players, it allowed the other musicians - like Steve Hunt [who's played with Stanley Clarke and Alan Holdsworth] on piano and Dino Govoni on sax - plenty of freedom."

What makes Ed Spargo different from most albums by marquee bassists is Ed's ability, based on the fundamentals he learned at Boston's Berklee College of Music, to write for every instrument, so his tunes never sound like bass calisthenics. "In funk, the bass line might be repetitive and in Latin music it might be very percussive," Ed explains, "but when you weave the harmonic structures of jazz into a composition, especially for a small group, the improvisational opportunities open up. You can really hear that on the classic albums by Miles Davis.

"Improvisation is a must for me," he continues. "I might be following a specific bass line, but I always leave enough room in my writing so I can constantly improvise - which I do. My goal as a composer is to allow plenty of room for self-expression for me and for other musicians. But even when somebody else is soloing as intensely as the musicians do on my album, I like to play in a way that's close to free association, so I can let anything that comes into my head channel its way out. That's the aspect of playing jazz I love the most. I try to forget any technical stuff and really let myself open up."

Spargo's next goal is to literally step