|Born||October 31, 1954|
North Carolina, U.S.
|Genres||Folk, klezmer, classical|
|Instrument(s)||Guitar, requinto, oud|
|Labels||Tzadik, Acoustic Music|
Tim Sparks (born October 31, 1954) is an American acoustic guitar player, singer, arranger and composer.
Raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he was given his first guitar when a bout of encephalitis kept him out of school for a year. The music he heard around him was traditional country blues, and the gospel his grandmother played on piano in a small church in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so that's what he taught himself to play.
He was nominated for a scholarship at the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts. There he studied the classics with Andrés Segovia protegee Jesus Silva. While recording three albums with the seminal vocal jazz ensemble Rio Nido, Sparks also became proficient in jazz styles from Brazilian to Bebop, which brought him several regional music awards including Best Acoustic Guitarist, Best Latin Jazz guitarist, and Best Jazz Guitarist in the Minnesota Music Awards. In 1993 he won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, playing his adaptation of The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky.
In the late 90s, Sparks had been immersed in the ethnic music scene and accompanying on guitar in Greek and Klezmer orchestras.He was a featured performer with Crossing Borders at the Bethlehem International Music Festival in July 1995 and has received two Arts Fellowships to pursue ethno-musicological studies. He spent one fall studying Fado and Portuguese guitar in Lisbon. In 1989 he arranged Russian folk music for the Guthrie Theater's adaptation of Uncle Vanya and in 1991 he was commissioned to compose music for Tienanmen , a ballet depicting the student uprising in China, for Myron Johnson's Ballet of the Dolls.
In 2000, Sparks began an association with American composer John Zorn.He has recorded four highly acclaimed CDs of Jewish Klezmer music adapted for acoustic fingerstyle guitar on Zorn's label, Tzadik Records. He earned a McKnight Fellowship to notate and edit the arrangements on Neshamah for publication.
Sparks has performed as an opening act for Dolly Parton and has performed on the same stage as Sándor Szabó, Franco Morone, Cyro Baptista, Isato Nakagawa and Bill Frisell. He has also performed on such national venues as A Prairie Home Companion, the main stage of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society. He has performed at the Edenkoben Festival and the Dresden Guitar Festival in Germany and held a Jazz Guitar teaching residency in Lisbon, Portugal. He frequently tours Japan, France, Belgium, Austria and Hungary.
Sparks is a past faculty member at the University of Minnesota Morris and continues to perform in concert.
John Zorn is an American composer, conductor, saxophonist, arranger and producer who "deliberately resists category". His avant-garde and experimental approaches to composition and improvisation are inclusive of jazz, rock, hardcore, classical, contemporary, surf, metal, soundtrack, ambient, and world music. In 2013, Down Beat described Zorn as "one of our most important composers" and in 2020 Rolling Stone noted that "[alt]hough Zorn has operated almost entirely outside the mainstream, he's gradually asserted himself as one of the most influential musicians of our time".
Masada is a musical group with rotating personnel led by American saxophonist and composer John Zorn since the early 1990s.
William Richard Frisell is an American jazz guitarist, composer and arranger. Frisell first came to prominence at ECM Records in the 1980s, as both a session player and a leader. He went on to work in a variety of contexts, notably as a participant in the Downtown Scene in New York City, where he formed a long working relationship with composer and saxophonist John Zorn. He was also a longtime member of veteran drummer Paul Motian's groups from the early 1980s until Motian's death in 2011. Since the late 1990s, Frisell's output as a bandleader has also integrated prominent elements of folk, country, rock ‘n’ roll and Americana. He has six Grammy nominations and one win.
Cyro Baptista is a Brazilian percussionist in jazz and world music. He creates many of the percussion instruments he plays.
Flatpicking is the technique of striking the strings of a guitar with a pick held between the thumb and one or two fingers. It can be contrasted to fingerstyle guitar, which is playing with individual fingers, with or without wearing fingerpicks. While the use of a plectrum is common in many musical traditions, the exact term "flatpicking" is most commonly associated with Appalachian music of the American southeastern highlands, especially bluegrass music, where string bands often feature musicians playing a variety of styles, both fingerpicking and flatpicking. Musicians who use a flat pick in other genres such as rock and jazz are not commonly described as flatpickers or even plectrum guitarists. As the use of a pick in those traditions is commonplace, generally only guitarists who play without a pick are noted by the term "fingerpicking" or "fingerstyle".
At the Rebbe's Table is the third recording by guitarist Tim Sparks on the Tzadik Records label.
Neshamah (Songs from the Jewish Diaspora) is the first solo recording by American guitarist Tim Sparks on the Tzadik Records label. "Neshamah" means "soul" in Hebrew. The arrangements adapt Ashkenazic klezmer, Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jewish music for the solo guitar.
Tanz is the second recording by American guitarist Tim Sparks on the Tzadik Records label, released in 2000. The word טאַנץ is Yiddish for dance, cognate to the German word Tanz with the same meaning.
The Nutcracker Suite is a recording by American guitarist Tim Sparks, released in 1993. It consists of both an adaptation for acoustic guitar of Tchaikovsky's suite from his 1892 ballet The Nutcracker and the Balkan Dreams Suite, a suite of songs based on melodies and ideas of Béla Bartók. Sparks won the 1993 National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship playing his solo guitar arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite".
Richard Royall "Duck" Baker IV is an American acoustic fingerstyle guitarist who plays in a variety of styles: jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime, folk, and Irish and Scottish music. He has written many instruction books for guitar.
Muriel Anderson is an American fingerstyle guitarist and harp guitarist who plays in many genres. She is the first woman to win the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship.
Filmworks VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour is a 1989 album by John Zorn featuring music written for a series of Japanese animated shorts that were created by Kiriko Kubo. It features Zorn's first music for cartoons and was originally released on the Japanese Sony label in limited numbers. In late 1996 Zorn finally attained the rights for his music and remastered and re-released the album on his own label, Tzadik, in 1997.
Pat Kirtley is an American fingerstyle guitarist, composer and guitar educator.
Masada Anniversary Edition Vol. 1: Masada Guitars is the first album in a series of five releases celebrating the 10th anniversary of John Zorn's Masada songbook project.
Before We Were Born is the first album by Bill Frisell to be released on the Elektra Nonesuch label. It was released in 1989 and features performances by Frisell, cellist Hank Roberts, bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Joey Baron. Guests include guitarist Arto Lindsay, keyboardist Peter Scherer, alto saxophonist Julius Hemphill and baritone saxophonist Doug Wieselman.
Sidewalk Blues is an album by American guitarist Tim Sparks, released in 2009. It marks a return to 'roots' music for Sparks after three albums of klezmer and jazz recordings on the Tzadik Records label.
Little Princess is the eighth album by guitarist Tim Sparks and his fourth on the Tzadik Records label. It is a tribute album to the music of Klezmer clarinetist Naftule Brandwein.
Richard Smith is an English guitarist.
Francesco Morone known as Franco Morone, is an Italian guitar player, teacher, composer and arranger specializing in the fingerstyle technique. He is the author of several books and has recorded CDs and videos playing his original music, which combines traditional Italian and Celtic melodies with jazz, blues and folk influences. He currently performs and teaches across Europe, the United States, and Japan.
Terry Robb is a Canadian fingerstyle guitarist, composer, arranger and record producer living in the United States. He plays electric and acoustic guitar, and is associated with the American Primitive Guitar genre through his collaboration with steel string guitarist John Fahey. He is a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame, and was honored with the eponymous "Terry Robb" Muddy Award for Best Acoustic Guitar in 2011. His original compositions draw on the Delta blues, ragtime, folk music, country music and jazz traditions.