With a unique blend of electronica, acid jazz and chill, the music of Four80East isn't all that easy to categorize. Without doubt the band has given smooth jazz a much needed shot in the arm yet it would be paying a disservice to founder members Rob DeBoer and Tony Grace to describe them as simply smooth jazz performers. They are so much more than that and since 1998, with the CD The Album; they have been consistently pushing out the boundaries. By just how far is ably demonstrated by their excellent new 'best of' release, Biblioteca, which is a 'digital-only' offering targeted exclusively at Europe and containing ten choice cuts harvested from their considerable discography. Not only that, the recording also includes a brand-new remix of the classic 'Je Pense A Toi'.
Taking a chronological perspective, Biblioteca starts out with where it all began, with 'Eastside' from The Album that became the seventh most-played track on contemporary jazz radio of that that year. It still sounds incredibly edgy today and much the same can be said of the hugely percussive 'Stars Like These', the wonderful 'Last Flight To LA' and the seminal 'Je Pense A Toi' that are all taken from the band's 2002 project Round Three. This latter tune (which in its original version is sexy in the extreme) is also delivered as a 'French Kiss' remix that is more chilled, more evocative and six of the best minutes of music you will hear this year.
The collection to which Biblioteca leans most heavily is the 2007 En Route. Here we find familiar numbers such as 'Been Too Long', 'Double Down' and the big hits 'Waterline' and 'Noodle Soup'. Talking of hits there has been none so big and none so catchy as the title cut from the 2009 CD Roll On yet Four80East being Four80East they dodge the obvious by going for 'After All This Time' from the same album.
It also happens to be one of my all time favorite tracks and as Biblioteca reaches its final chapter with the spine tingling 'In The Hidden Garden' (from the 2011 recording Off Duty) one is left to reflect that not only is this a 'must have' compilation for fans of Four80East everywhere but also, for those discovering them for the first time, a great place to start.