CD Review: Spare Parts' Brain Candy true fusion

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115999652612513.jpg’, ‘Image courtesy of Spare Parts’, ”);

If you’re looking for members of the Chicago-based band Spare Parts to describe their music, don’t expect a concrete answer. Not that any of the four members are in the habit of snubbing fans, quite the contrary. They are genuinely nice guys. It’s just that their new CD, Brain Candy, doesn’t follow rules that apply to any specific genre, and explaining its content could take some time.

From the first cut, “Sacred Land,” to the “Sacred Land” outro, listeners are taken on philosophical, technical and reminiscent musical journeys.

As soon as Shane Jonas’ vocals begin to echo those of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, the groove shifts, and the funk, jazz and cleverly created techno hints begin to reveal themselves. This group does possess a ring that certainly unveils its influences; however, it ingeniously owns a unique sound that only can be attributed to Spare Parts themselves.

Odd to some music fans who have attempted to label Spare Parts as a jazz act, is the fact that this band has no guitar player. In fact, a guitarist would only spoil this ensemble. By listening closely to each tune, it becomes evident that electronic keyboards, used correctly, can be a more forceful tool, and Spare Parts knows its toolbox well.

Bass fans will have a listening field day with Brain Candy. Often a behind-the-scenes instrument, the bass guitar is, in fact, a challenging animal to tame; however, Colin Scott proves he’s a big-game hunter. Without reservation, he lays down poppy funk and blues-ridden riffs over jazz melodies that include trumpet, played by Jonas, and the psychedelic keyboard tapestry by Kevin Kozol. Jonas also adds to the keyboard attack.

Drummer Mike Bruno, obviously well-schooled, creates syncopated tight pockets that pave the way for a true musical experience.

It is safe to say that Brain Candy is an enigma, something the traditional music scene needs, giving legitimacy to the often misunderstood works of Primus and Weather Report.

Not surprising, the band’s music is currently the rave among college radio stations across the nation. One of the most versatile bands on the map today, it has also scored several tracks for independent films and commercials.

Mixed and mastered by Alex Hall of Long Division Recording in Chicago, Brain Candy is appropriately titled and offers a correct, textbook definition of the word “fusion,” a term often too loosely used to describe many styles of music.

For jazz, R&B, funk and rock fans alike, Brain Candy has all the ingredients to satisfy any listening urge. It’s surely a disc that will be difficult to keep out of any rotation.

Spare Parts is busy touring the Midwest. Its dynamic live show is sprinkled with improvisation like that of a classic jam band, but as with its recordings, it quickly brings back the tightness of a well-rehearsed show that tells a story in each song. Collectively, the members of Spare Parts have shared the stage with Liquid Soul, Victor Wooten, The Jazz Mandolin Project and Pnuma Trio, among others.

Brain Candy can be purchased on the band’s Web site,, and at shows. For bookings, contact Mike Bruno by e-mail at or by calling (773) 369-7278.

From the Oct. 4-10, 2006, issue

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