Review of "Our Own Devices" - SmoothJazz.de
Player A is not your typical Nashville music group. Flooding the scene with new ideas and extreme professionalism, it was only a natural release after their debut EP On The Side their sophomore album Our Own Devices (2011).
Player A feature such artists as keyboardist and producer Eric Copeland, bassist Gary Lunn, guitarist Mark Baldwin, drummer Bryan Fullen, and saxophonist Sam Levine. Inspired by mastermind and composer Eric Copeland, Player A presents the finest smooth jazz Nashville has ever heard.
Sleekness starts the album with a funky approach. Marcus Anderson takes the lead on sax. This young lion is a powerhouse of a saxman. Mark Baldwin answers his call on sax with the right answer on guitar.
Staying Alive is not a Saturday Night Fever dream. This rendition is a heavyweight of groove. Especially the talk box effect makes it dirty and phat.
The Deepest Love is a fine ballade, a treasury for all smooth jazz fans. Dave Cleveland on guitar gives this tune a shining finish. With Coming On saxophonist Sam Levine showcases his great experience and prowess as player and overdub specialist.
Our Own Devices has so much musical depth, you don't know how to start praising the musicians. From Copeland's compositional genius to Brian Fullen's impressive work on drums to Tom Hemby's breathtaking guitar loops or Danny OLannerty's propulsive bass, there is a plethora to listen.
On the easy going Steppin, Gary Lunn excels on bass. One Step Forward shows the band's competence for lyrical movie scores. Talk About It adds a breeze of Reggae flavored harmony (featuring the) remarkable Scott Dente and Mark Baldwin on acoustic guitars.
(Hate To Say) I Told You So is the perfect song for Copeland to spread his talent on the smoky keys. The Ruthann Friedman written hit Windy from 1967 was introduced into the instrumental world by Wes Montgomery. But what Copeland makes with the melody, is pure genius. From the Mario Brother intro to the fast paced syncopated jazz piece, just superb.
With the edgy song Chiller the group presents their members in flashing solos. Gary Lunn on fretless bass and Eric Copeland on electric piano serve A Fitting End in a melodious and introspective way.
Nashville's highly accomplished musicians Player A deserve our attention. Our Own Devices is an exceedingly thrilling experience. More of these stirring ideas on their next album and this band will write history. - Hans-Bernd Hülsmann
"Our Own Devices" - Smooth
Jazz Jazz Therapy
Our Own Devices is quickly up and running with the hard driving Sleekness which features sax from Marcus Anderson and, although Talk About It has something of an Acoustic Alchemy feel about it, One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward proves to be an expansive musical extravaganza that is underpinned by fine orchestral elements.
In terms of cover versions, Copelands retro tinged keys are integral to the bands ultra funky take on the Bee Gees Staying Alive and their edgy version of the Ruthann Friedman composition Windy makes this familiar song sound brand new.
Elsewhere the title cut is a moody piece that serves as an excellent showcase for the combined skills of Copeland and guitarist Tom Hemby while Chiller is another intensely funky number for which Mark Baldwin on guitar, Gary Lunn on bass and Copeland all play a part. Mark Baldwin is again in splendid form for the inviting vibe of (Hate To Say) I Told Ya So while in terms of personal favorites both the easy grooving The Deepest Love and Steppin (which features nice keys from Copeland and storming bass from Lunn) are right up there. However, best of all is the pleasingly mid tempo Coming On. The first track to be serviced to radio it features sax from Sam Levine and is sure to do well.
The appropriately titled A Fitting End provides a mellow conclusion to Our Own Devices and affords Gary Lunn on fretless bass one more chance to shine. It is a reminder, if in fact is one needed, that Nashville is not only one of the last bastions of consistent studio work for quality players but is also home to some serious jazz talent. - Denis Poole
"Our Own Devices" - The
Smooth Jazz Ride
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
Review of "Our Own Devices" - The Phantom Tollbooth
The A team strikes! This time it's Player A Nashville's finest session men together in one studio, left to their own devices. An instrumental feast for the ears.
You say you've never heard Player A? Well, you're probably wrong since Player A is a group of Nashville's finest, most prolific studio session players: the 'A list' hence, (in the spirit of First Call) the name. And a fitting name it is, with such spectacular instrumentalists as Mark Baldwin, Scott Dente, Dave Cleveland and Tom Hemby on guitars, Matt Pierson, Danny O'Lannerty and Gary Lunn on Bass, John Hammond, Scott Williamson, Brian Fullen, Ken Lewis and Dan Needham on drums, and Eric Copeland on keyboards: a super-group of musicians, more-or-less faceless to the public, who provide the musical condiments that flavor the sounds of so many of Nashville's greats.
The smooth, cool jazz of these twelve tracks (produced by Copeland) highlights the capabilities of these players not only as amazing soloists but as a sometimes funky, sometimes smooth rhythm section. Everyone shines on this engaging collection that is both 'hot' enough to dig into and smooth enough to create a nice groove in the background. One can only imagine how wonderful it would be to hear this band in a live context, where things could become a bit more spontaneous and (hopefully) even get a bit out of hand. These guys have got the goods of course, years of supporting the 'main event' has taught these musicians the art of restraint and respect for the 'space' of the guys playing next to them. In this case 'guys' like sax legend Sam Levine or Marcus Anderson (who each do guest shots on this project).
The instrumental songs are all written by Copeland except for the two covers: "Staying Alive," and the sixties hit, "Windy," which cleverly starts off sounding like a vintage video game before getting into the meat of the piece: funk meets technology, meets jazz.
Our Own Devices does indeed leave these musicians, who usually are supporting other well-known artists, to their own devices, and the result is an album of well-constructed songs featuring the best players around finally getting to stretch out and do what they want to do.
It sounds like they had fun so will you. - Bert Saraco
"Our Own Devices" -
"On the Side" - Smooth-Jazz.de
The band are keyboardist and producer Eric Copeland, bassist Gary Lunn, guitarist Mark Baldwin, drummer Bryan Fullen and saxophonist Sam Levine. The band also works as production team for other jazz artists like guitarist Drew Davidsen, recording with him the albums Around (Again), We 3 Stringz and his 2011 release Spin Cycle.
On The Side is the first solo project of this formation presenting finest smooth jazz in the style of Fourplay, The Rippingtons or Jeff Lorber.
This EP offers five elegant tunes starting with the slow paced On The Side. A smooth reflection of the same-titled song, Copeland released on his album The Jazz In Me. Gloomy like a summer breeze.
The spiritual Gospel standard S&T (Softly & Tenderly) features bassist Gary Lunn, who dedicates his instrument to the worship as a fully functional flowing part of a musical collective that draws people closer to God.
Jazz is often associated with the color blue. Jazz habitually uses blue notes. A blue note is a note sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes. In The Key Of Blue follows this imagination, somehow lonesome and melancholic.
The colorful El Caribe reminds of the silky smooth style of the Rippingtons. Alluring and soothing. Mark Baldwin's guitar work is the perfect answer to Copeland's brilliant work on keys.
Eric originally composed Come To Me for Sienna's debut album Steps, which was released on his label in 2003. He transfers this soulful melody to an awesome instrumental rendition. Just As I Am is a well-known hymn interpreted by Gary Lunn on bass and elaborated by Eric on piano with atmospheric reverb.
This EP is a taste of the upcoming album Our Own Devices, which is scheduled for release in 2011. The songs are contemplative, uplifting and a pledge for the survival of the spiritual dimension of jazz music. - Hans-Bernd Hülsmann
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