Four Piece Suit is the product of a curious musical makeover. These former members of the Savages, R&B singer Barrence Whitfield's backup band, have reinvented themselves as a frothy pop cocktail -- two parts lounge music, one part swing, served with a smile.
While the band's timing seems more than a little calculated, its eagerness to jump aboard the swing bandwagon doesn't blunt its flair for playing lounge lizards with a taste for oddball film themes and pop novelties. A good move, because you can only do so much retro-swinging with a four-piece band. Guitarist Milt Reder, saxophonist David Sholl, bassist Dean Cassell and drummer Lorne Entress are clearly better off pretending they're playing in a swank watering hole or scoring the music for a cheesy beach flick.
The majority of tracks are original tunes, though it's not always easy telling the new pieces apart from the vintage ones. That's because the entire album is devoted to celebrating the fringe elements of pop's past. Which explains why "Old Cape Cod" comes across sounding like an East Coast surfer's anthem and "Girl From Ipanema" is recast as a sloppy sci-fi soundtrack and dubbed, "It Came From Ipanema."
Appearing Friday at IOTA. To hear a free Sound Bite from Four Piece Suit, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8105. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)