Carrol-Simmons-Sparks Bio 2020
Not since the inception of Texas’ most seminal jazz group, the (Jazz) Crusaders has there been a homegrown band as unique as Carrol-Simmons-Sparks (CSS). Though their journey is quite different from the former, CSS have landed in the place to carry the torch of Lone Star greatness. The wealth of their collective musicianship and style is rare in one group.
At the head is Houston native Shelley Carrol’s big Texas Tenor sound. That sought after tone has been featured on recordings and in concert halls by artists like Sheryl Crow, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Kool and the Gang, Gregory Porter, and many others. Carrol also has five releases as a leader and scores of other guest appearances.
Keyboardist, Bobby Sparks, II was a bit of a child prodigy and got his start playing in church in Corsicana, Texas. By his teen years he was already doing professional gigs in nearby Dallas-Fort Worth. This led to his over 20 year association with Gospel great, Kirk Franklin. From there his versatility led to stints with a virtual who’s who in music. The list includes Yolanda Adams, George Benson, Shirley Caesar, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Roy Hargrove, Lalah Hathaway, Marcus Miller and many others. Bobby is an avid vintage keyboard collector and is one of the most sought after session players in the music industry.
Mark Simmons is widely considered one of the best drummers on the scene today. After attending Berklee College of Music, he has recorded and toured with Zacardi Cortez, Kenny Garrett, Bobby Lyle, Joe Sample, Snarky Puppy, and Kyle Turner. Mark spent over a dozen years as drummer for jazz legend, Al Jarreau. His fiery, yet sensitive style makes him a first call player for both live shows and studio recordings.
Carrol/Simmons/Sparks began as a trio but soon added bassist Justin McKinney to its touring show. Affectionately known as “Jay McK”, he has quickly made a name for himself in the R&B and jazz scene. His credits include Rick Braun, Chris Dave and Drumheadz, Monica, Ruben Studdard, and Liv Warfield. Jay Mck is often called on to serve as musical director for live shows and tours. His sound and style can move seamlessly from solid bass grooves to a showstopping soloist.
Together, these four individuals make up one of the most soulful and entertaining groups of the millennium.