North Carolina musicians seem to have trouble with mathematics; the Ben Folds Five was a trio and the Countdown Quartet has six members. On the other hand, the Countdown Quartet's new album, "Sadlack's Stomp," proves the sextet can count out a beat, for this horn band sustains a syncopated 4/4 groove with mesmerizing effect.
This isn't a slick swing-revival band like the Brian Setzer Orchestra or a polished R&B outfit like Tower of Power. This is a party band like the Iguanas, the ReBirth Brass Band or NRBQ with the Whole Wheat Horns, groups whose lo-fi simplicity and offhanded casualness are part of the festive atmosphere.
The Countdown Quartet, led by trombonist Dave Wright and bassist Steve Grothmann, features whatever other Raleigh, N.C., musicians are available; the current lineup includes current or former members of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Whiskeytown, Six String Drag, House of Freaks and the Tonebenders. But this is roots-rock with roots in New Orleans parades rather than Texas honky-tonk.
The six instrumentals and six vocal numbers -- all written by Wright, Grothmann and guitarist David Andrews -- range from the trad-jazz of the title track to the garage rock of "Wildcat." But every catchy trombone riff and saxophone phrase is an invitation to move the living room furniture into the bedroom, roll up the carpet and do the kind of dancing that makes tuxedos and lessons irrelevant.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Friday at IOTA. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Countdown Quartet, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8123. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)