Atlantis Quartet expands musical vison on new CD

The Atlantis Quartet performs tonight and Saturday at the Artists Quarter. (Photo by Shelly Mossman)
  1. Listen David Cazares reviews the new Atlantis Quartet CD “Expansion”

The Atlantis Quartet has been fusing genres since 2006, and its debut “Again, Too Soon,” released the following year, established the band’s reputation as a ground-breaking jazz-rock powerhouse.

This weekend at St. Paul’s Artists’ Quarter, the group celebrates a much-anticipated fourth album in “Expansion.”

Guitarist Zacc Harris, saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, bassist Chris Bates and drummer Pete Hennig stretch their imaginations with a potent mix of influences and styles in one dynamic recording.

Expansion cover

The album’s title is appropriate, as its nine tracks cover expansive ground — from rock-influenced tunes to free jazz, swinging post-bop and songs with odd meters.

Adept at developing their individual musical ideas within a group setting, the musicians employ a vibrant and contrasting approach that envelops listeners in waves of sound.

It’s easy to hear on “Acrux,” an ambitious and soaring tune by Hennig that weaves the players’ individual styles into free-flowing experiments filled with of tension and color.

Though the Atlantis Quartet can capture a listener’s imagination with a pleasing groove, the group can also deliver rapid-fire licks in complex rhythms and changing tempos, much like the best jazz-rock ensembles of the1970s.

The quartet also doesn’t neglect tradition, returning to bebop influences in the Harris tune “Shadow Puppets.”

Central to the quartet’s sparkling sound is a lively balance between rhythm and melody. The sizzling phrases by Harris on electric guitar and Wozniak’s rolling sax improvisations top the intricate yet steady foundation of bass and drums.

After years of playing together, Bates and Hennig have developed a collective language that provides mood — and energy.

Some listeners might prefer the band stick to melodic, rock-driven tunes.

But on stage and on their recordings, the musicians show that there’s no need to pick one groove – or to box them into a specific genre or category.

Their creative, improvisational music defies labels.