Player A — Our Own Devices

June 17, 2011

Talk about assembling a great group of session players and cranking out a funky contemporary/fusion-based work of noteworthy art, the Nashville group Player A has done that and then some with Our Own Devices, displaying about as much vigor and fire as one could hope to hear. Complete with deep, expressive bass lines, well-defined and authoritative drums and keys, solid guitar runs, memorable melodies, and even well-placed scatting on occasion, this project truly has one thing in abundance: identity, unlike many session players might acquire in their everyday studio roles.

Producer/keyboardist/composer Eric Copeland has much to say about this project and much for which to be proud. As he states, “’Our Own Devices’ is a modern masterpiece. This thing is just a piece of art. It looks and feels like art in your hands, and the work of the players is just something else.” “Something else,” indeed. There’s even an appearance on the lead track by saxman Marcus Anderson, himself a rising star.
The album combines modern jazz audio technology with the old-fashioned manner of jamming with live musicians to capture the complete essence of where jazz was, where it’s been, and where it is now.

Tracks like the lead jamming track, “Sleekness,” through  the serene, sweet, and very reflective title track, featuring Copeland’s keys and the guitar work of Tom Hemby to the mid-tempo expressive “Steppin’” with Copeland laying down the funky style of keys I personally love, (that James Lloyd/Bob Baldwin get-at-it kind of funky style)  and the true bassmanship of Gary Lunn to the fusion-based tracks like “One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward,” this album does a good job of covering it all, including a finale with bassist Lunn on the fretless with just Copeland as accompaniment. Brilliant piece.

The CD jacket says: “We are bringing the art back to contemporary jazz. We are bringing the craft back to the music business.” There’s no doubt in my mind that they are, at the very least, doing their part here, and very well. – Ronald Jackson

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