Four80East — Positraction

Dec. 6, 2015

While it took me awhile to obtain this album, Positraction, it was certainly more than worth the wait. Four80East always manages to turn Four80East CDout a quality project that never fails to move one instantly. Theirs has been termed groove jazz, electro-jazz, fusion, acid jazz, and the like. Whatever term you use to describe the infectious work of this Canadian duo (Rob DeBoer on keys, guitar, bass and programming and Tony Grace on percussion and programming), the result is the same: A potpourri of phat, filling, and creative grooves that offer their all on every track.

Coloring the canvas immediately in vivid shades of original hues, the c-jazz equivalent of Steely Dan (in terms of approaches to production) kicks it off with the upbeat finger-snapping title track, which is heavy on keys, guitar, sax, and includes a cool crescendo of horns in a nice tight arrangement. It rolls on through the equally moving and acid jazz feel of “Eegee Beegee,” another with a quality horn arrangement. When artists get that horn arrangement as tight as it should be, it genuinely moves me (and, I’m sure, thousands of others) and adds such an indescribable dimension of beauty to the track. By the way, the horns featured on this album include Jon Stewart and Gene Hardy on saxes, Alexis Baro and Bob Rice on trumpet, Gord Myers on trombone. A very special touch is added with the flute work of Bill McBirnie.

Taking it deeper into the album, “Dirty Stack” kicks butt, once it’s fully wound up, with its full-bodied funk and weighty presence, courtesy of some mean synth work from DeBoer (more top-tier sax work here, also). “Tikitango” takes us away to dance to our hearts’ delight to the refreshing rhythmic flavor of the islands, featuring the soaring flute of McBirnie.

The track that has caught fire over the months is the mid-tempo and funky radio single “Cookie Strut,” a sliding, slick, and snappy number with lots of that special pizzazz that makes a track a standout track. Also, you must check out the great percussion work by Grace on “Window Seat.”

Solidly in the driver’s seat of their own musical destiny, Four80East is in one of the most comfortable positions in c-jazz as it continues to explore the edges of the genre and redefine what is truly adventurous. Never a pair of artists to dissatisfy, that trend continues here with this creative release. – Ronald Jackson