A new direction for Atlantis Quartet

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Photo by Shelly Moss

Anyone who is looking for a band that captures the spirit of modern jazz in the Twin Cities would want to look no further than the Atlantis Quartet, the four-member ensemble that has set the standard for the last several years.

Formed in 2006, the Atlantis Quartet has become a major force in Minnesota and the Midwest, with a blend of driving rhythms and imaginative melodies. It includes Zacc Harris on guitar, Pete Hennig on drums, Brandon Wozniak on saxophone and Chris Bates on bass.

Fusing traditional jazz with rock and a modern sensibility, the musicians have built an audience with inventive compositions, well-established themes and strong storytelling.

After three strong albums in “Again, Too Soon,” “Animal Progress” and “Lines in the Sand,” the quartet is again working on new material, songs they will include in a set tonight at the Dakota Jazz Club. After hearing the quartet recently at St. Paul’s Artists’ Quarter, it seems to me that the group’s latest tunes allow for more introspection and variation.

“All four members are contributing original music for the new recording and the music is a lot more ‘open’ to feature the different members of the band,” Hennig told me this week. “There are also a few complex arrangements in odd meter to feature ensemble playing. We’re still fine tuning some of the songs this month before we go to record.”

It will be interesting to see if the quartet takes more time developing a theme and if the musicians’ solos involve a greater sense of exploration, and willingness to take detours.

If the conversations I’ve had with the musicians in recent months are any indication, their compositions are evolving in more seamless ways.

“We’ve been getting more free within that,” Bates said recently of the group’s approach. “You start trusting one another more in that way.”

The important thing is that the Atlantis Quartet still has a great identifiable sound – one that will have fans eagerly waiting for the new recording.

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