Jason Ricci & New Blood,
Done With the Devil
(Eclecto Groove, 2008)

Jason Ricci says his new record is more about songs than anything else. None of the songs were written or chosen as vehicles for solos or any other sort of musical pyrotechnics. Ricci sees this choice as evidence that the band has become more sophisticated, more adult.

I've got to agree. Usually, records by harp wizards like Ricci feature the harp player out front with the rest of the band laying down riffs in support; occasionally, the guitar player gets to stretch out, but mostly it's the harpist. That's not what's going on here. Sure, Ricci gets his turns out front, as do most of the other musicians, but this is a tight, sharp and committed ensemble effort. These guys are a band, not a bunch of accompanists. Occasionally, they are supplemented by a Hammond B3 or another guitarist, but mostly it's Ricci's standard road band showing off what all the time on the road has done for their unity.

There's a strong rock influence here; Ricci has as much in common with the jam bands as he does the blues players and you can hear a pretty strong John Popper influence in his harp playing, but the cross-genre playing just serves to enrich what he's doing.

Give Dance With the Devil a shot. You'll be glad you did.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

12 September 2009

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