Player A is a loose collection of studio musicians out of Nashville who have come together under the direction of keyboardist, producer and Creative Soul label President Eric Copland. While all of the musicians on the disc are heavy hitters there is no way they are household names unless you like to read liner notes on the records of others because it’s there where you’ll find their names. The cast of musicians rotates and revolves depending on the composition, but the one stable element throughout is Copeland’s playing, his compositions and arrangements; besides the two covers, one by the Brothers Gibb, “Staying Alive,” and the pop chestnut “Windy.”
There are a number of standout points regarding this recording. Guitarist Dave Cleveland takes a lovely turn on “The Deepest Love,” John Hammond’s drum groove is wonderfully tight on “Sleekness,” bassist Gary Lunn lays down some sweet bass on “Steppin” and the groove to “Chiller” is infectious.
Overall, however, the compositions lack luster. While solidly constructed, there is little about them that is memorable. That Copeland has chops is undeniable, both as a performer and arranger, but as a composer of material presented on this disc, there is a sameness from track to track. The novelty of the game system used on The Association's “Windy” is clever as are the rhythms and beats Copeland derives from it upon which the arrangement hinges. As well the hip double time versus half-time feel in the rhythm on that track is a stroke of genius. It’s too bad that track ends so quickly.
It’s in those passages and similar ones on other tunes, the arrangements themselves, where this disc excels. Copeland has an incredible instinctiveness when it comes to how rhythm section arrangements should be scoped out. The placing of his blues and gospel-inflected solos within the different tracks is also brilliant. For those who love hip grooves, this is a great disc, it just lacks unforgettable melodies.