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Tim Sparks

Little Princess

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Tim Sparks is a Minnesota-based acoustic guitarist upholding the tradition(s) of virtuosos Robbie Basho and the late John Fahey. Like Fahey, Spark's style is incredibly inclusive — he's opened shows for Dolly Parton, performed at folk festivals in America and Europe, appeared on Prairie Home Companion, and has discs released on avant-garde saxophonist/composer John Zorn's label Tzadik.

Little Princess is Sparks' homage to Naftule Brandwein, the innovative and cantankerous genius of the klezmer clarinet, whose heyday was in the 1920s and 1930s. (Klezmer is a secular Hebraic/Yiddish music of Easern European origin, the American version of which is very jazz-influenced.) With astonishingly brilliant technique, Sparks infuses the Eastern European-based melodies of Brandwein with elements of flamenco and jazz (in terms of both swing and improvisation), his fingerstyle picking rippling and assertive. More importantly, his approach is free of stuffy "reverence" for the object of his homage — Princess is modern, wiry, and inspired as anything by Joshua Redman or Tortoise. His trio, acoustic bassist Greg Cohen (who's played with Zorn, Tom Waits, and Woody Allen!) and Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, juggle and interweave more rhythms than you've had hot breakfasts, maybe ever.

Little Princess sounds vaguely familiar and yet like nothing else, exuding joy and euphoric creativity. No home should be without a copy (seriously). (Tzadik)

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