A collection of sophisticated songs that are well written, beautifully performed, and ready to sweep you away to another place

Sand Dollar in My Suitcase
Player A
11 tracks   /   54:09

Well, if the Florida Board of Tourism doesn’t buy the rights to “Welcome to Florida” post-haste it’s their own fault. Player A’s latest project, Sand Dollar in My Suitcase is a love-letter to Florida and all things tropical. The lead-off track, “Welcome to Florida,” is the aural equivalent to one of those ‘all-inclusive’ Sandals Resorts commercials. Now, that can be taken a couple of different ways, but in this case let’s just say it will make you want to kick back, feel a cool breeze in the sunlight, watch a palm tree swaying, and - at least for a while - forget about crowded city traffic, looting, burning cities, and all of that other fun stuff. 

Known primarily for sophisticated, smooth instrumental jazz, Player A takes a side trip south, Nashville grooves giving way to Sambas, Basa Nova, and Latin-inspired moods. Songwriter / keyboardist Eric Copeland’s recent move to Florida and subsequent lock-down became the perfect catalyst for these songs which, in another uncharacteristic move, are fairly equally divided between instrumentals and songs with vocals. According to Copeland, the title track was written as a pitch to Michael Franks, and you can certainly hear a vocal kinship there, although my ears are hearing a smoother, jazzier John Sebastian in timbre. Adult Contemporary Radio could eat up any of these tracks, which are both relaxing and musically sophisticated, with refreshingly laid-back lyrics and an appealing vocal delivery. 

Player A is still made up of Nashville’s best, with Copeland fronting the likes of John Hammond, Brian Fullen, Ken Lewis, Scott Williamson and Steve Brewster on drums, Craig Nelson, Gary Lunn, Matt Pierson, Danny O’Lannerghty on bass and Mark Baldwin and Scott Dente on guitars. The players are still smooth, still able to cook up a great in-the-pocket groove, and not above including more than a hint of Jobim, a ghost of Steeley Dan in the title-track or even a subtle shade of Stevie Wonder in his Carribean/jazz mode. For those looking for some of that smooth Gospel jazz there’s “The Samba is Waiting,” a subtly jazzified version of “The Savior is Waiting” - the secret is given away in Danny O’Lannerghty’s beautiful bass solo, which plainly states the original’s melody. 

Clearly, we’re talking ‘smooth,’ ‘cool,’ and ‘jazzy’ here. Although it maybe not the perfect gift for the metal-head or grunge fan in your family, Sand Dollar in My Suitcase is a collection of sophisticated songs that are well written and beautifully performed - much more than simply ear-candy and certainly not elevator music.

And if you start to feel a subtle but hard to resist urge to book a flight to Florida ...well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Are you listening, Florida Board of Tourism??

- Bert Saraco

4 tocks

You can see Bert’s concert photography at www.facebook.com/express.image

full disclosure: most of the concert pictures are taken in sweaty, overcrowded NYC venues