The debut album by Nashville's E.M.P. Project shows a young jazz trio doing solid and original work without particularly expanding the boundaries of its chosen style. Drummer William Ellis, bassist Joseph Patrick Moore, and guitarist Shawn Perkinson (the E, M, and P of the name) share a gently swinging interplay and fair mastery of their instruments, but most of the ten originals on this album sound pretty much exactly like dozens of similar post-bop compositions on dozens of similar albums. The main exception is the excellent "Blues Blown Bye," which marries a peculiar, almost martial shuffle rhythm to an interesting and unique lead guitar line; together, they recall mid-period Steely Dan on a bossa nova trip more than they do early George Benson, which at least suggests a wider range of influences than the rest of the album does. While it's nice to hear a young jazz trio that isn't aping Medeski, Martin & Wood, the E.M.P. Project is, at least on this album, more pleasant than exciting.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason