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Four80East – Off Duty

Sept. 7, 2012

Rob DeBoer and Tony Grace, the pulse of Four80East, have massaged and presented their brand of contemporary jazz in so many salient ways, attracting not only countless admirers as fans but colleagues in the business who are heavyweights in their own right. Theirs is truly one of the household names in this biz.  Now, the Canadians are back again with a gem called Off Duty which again toys with the many moods and sounds of the genre as seen through their eyes and felt through their souls.

Charging out with a funky, upbeat lead track called “The Walker” that’s on fire with serious groove, these veterans of the jazz vibe with an edge escort us through some very solid material here, regularly changing musical landscapes along the way (for example, witness, in addition to the lead track, the cool interplay between guitar and keys on the slick mid-tempo “Cashed Out” followed by “In the Hidden Garden” which thrusts a beautiful combination of keys, trumpet, and flute into the forefront).

Four80East has been tantalizing and satisfying our taste for “outside the box” jazz for about 15 years now. It’s probably quite easy to classify their style as being that of acid jazz–and you’d probably be more accurate than not—but who cares? Whatever it is they bring to the table, it usually works. Using every means at their disposal to arrive at the unique sound and quality that is their signature has truly served them well, and this album is no different.

On this album, the potpourri of styles is as you would expect from this band. For example, there’s the world-flavored, not-to-be-pigeonholed “Nothing is Written,” as well such gems as your typical favorite in smooth jazz found on the laid back and melodic track “With You,” the mellow, trumpet-driven and electronically-enhanced “Picking Up The Threads,” and the even more electronica-themed, reggae-influenced “Vaporized.”

Whatever mojo Four80East tapped into long ago has remained with them to date. When you work with a formula that has been as accepted as theirs, the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage works just fine. – Ronald Jackson

Note: At the time of posting, no Amazon MP3 sampler was available. As soon as one becomes available, we will post it here.