Although not a huge name in jazz, Melvin Sparks brought his Grant Green-influenced guitar to quite a few soul-jazz and organ combo recordings of the late '60s and early '70s. A lover of jazz as well as R&B and blues, the Houston native took up the guitar at 11, and was only 13 when he sat in with B.B. King. In 1963 he joined the Upsetters, an R&B show band that backed Little Richard, Sam Cooke, and other big names. After leaving the Upsetters, Sparks played with Jack McDuff in 1966-1967. The improviser was very much in demand in the late '60s and early '70s, and he was featured on sessions by Charles Earland, Sonny Stitt, Lou Donaldson, Rusty Bryant, Sonny Phillips, Reuben Wilson, and Johnny "Hammond" Smith, among others. Sparks delivered his first album as leader, Sparks!, for Prestige in 1970, and recorded a few more Prestige dates before providing Melvin Sparks for Westbound in 1975.