The Players


Repeat after me: The players are not Jazz-Ska...The Players are not Jazz-Ska. There are no vocals on Instrumental, and there is some near-virtuoso level instrumentation on a lot of the songs; but these factors do not add up to another NYSJE! This is simply a great instrumental album, edgier than Jazz Jamaica, a hundred times tighter than The Legends of Brass, and a lot purer to Ska's core essentials than The Articles.

It's been said before: anyone can do a Skatalites cover, but very few can do it well. I couldn't agree more, which is why I am so pleased with the rendition of "Cleopatra" that opens up Instrumental. Listen for an amazing dichotomy of the shrill trumpet and the lumbering bari sax on this superb cover. Just as excellent is "Confucius", which rounds out the album at an awe-inspiring nearly 8:8 tempo. Imagine this song played almost twice as fast but without's hard to conceptualize, and I'm amazed that it works as well as it does. I know I gave props to The Orobians for pulling off a good Christine Keeler, but what the Orobians set out to do is exactly that: be a really great Skatalites-style band. The Players are just trying to be a great instrumental Ska band, and that's what they are in the end.

Watch out for track 4, "P.O.P" (why they left the third period off I don't know); where they mix things up a little with some of Ska musicians' favorite tricks: dropping to half time for a bridge, easing into distorted guitar at full time, then just the bass. Then the horns come back in tooting stacatto, the guitar creeps back, and finally the drums and after every instrument is clearly playing they end the song in one more bar. It could be said that these are not unique to Ska, for of course they aren't; but this scheme doesn't sound the same in other styles of music as it does in Ska.

If you live in the DC area be sure to check out the Players. They have ben gigging with Joe Strummer and Mass Hysteria recently and are probably coming to a town near you in the near future.



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