If Higher Octave's California based studio group 3rd Force thought it had the market cornered where the hardest core street rhythms met contemporary jazz, a stranger from the other coast has just upped the ante. The four members of Four 80 East could have been more creative than calling its debut The Album, but hardly more intense when it comes to thick, synth heavy, bass-driven throbbers which all at once hypnotize and get the dancefloor moving. Playing piano, guitar, bass, and harmonica, and programming these loops along with drummer Tony Grace, Rob DeBoer must be the busiest guy in New York. On Grace's "Table for Two," he improvises off a sweet little piano riff over an insistent bass groove that seems almost borrowed note for note from Bill Withers' "Use Me"; once his piano lead is through, he relegates the ivories to a supporting harmonic role beneath Jack Trentman airy trumpet lines which float above the heaviness. On "Speak Easy," Trentman makes a case for being the next Rick Braun or Chris Botti by creating spirited horn calls over a base that's part new age hypnosis, part Puff Daddy machine funk. This sort of interplay characterizes the whole ensemble -- lay the foundation heavy and spin around ever so lightly on the top. Not that it matters because going on pure vibe and atmosphere, Four 80 East twists acid jazz into a whole new form -- jazz-inflected urban trance music.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran