Chris Bates’ risk-taking Red 5, at the Artists’ Quarter

Chris Bates (MPR Photo/David Cazares)

After releasing one of the top local jazz albums of 2012, bassist Chris Bates didn’t take a breather.

Since his ensemble Red 5 released “New Hope” and gave two great shows at St. Paul’s Artists’ Quarter last fall, Bates has been tearing up the bandstand as both an accomplished leader and impressive sideman.

A first-call bassist, he has performed with drummers Ari Hoenig and Anton Fier. He’s also shared the stage with pianists Bill Carrothers and John Medeski. During the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, he joined drummer Matt Slocum and saxophonist Walter Smith III on the main stage.

Tonight and Saturday, Bates returns to the Artists’ Quarter with Red 5, where the quintet is sure to deliver an invigorating show – one in which multiple improvisers engage in a spirited conversation. Bates promises to debut two new tunes — “I Think We All Feel” and “Arz al Atlas” – which he said will continue the “world music-rock-groove” feel of the Red 5 recording.

The vibe from the stage will be anything but conventional.

“We aren’t safe because we always push beyond the last time we played,” Bates said. “The nature of improv is to stretch beyond your comfort zone.”

Joining him on stage tonight will be saxophonists Brandon Wozniak and Nelson Devereaux, trumpeter Zack Lozier, and his “drumming brother extraordinaire,” J.T. Bates. On Saturday, saxophonist Chris Thomson returns instead of Devereaux.

After a long stretch of playing together, all will stretch their imaginations.

“Every time we play we have all lived a little more life and learned a thing or two more about ourselves and our musical personalities,” he said. “So that informs our performances with new energy and fresh inspiration.”

Bates has no plans to record another recording yet, but could do so next year.

First, he has a few other projects to complete. For “Grease Gun” he’ll work with bassist Anthony Cox, drummers Dave King and his brother. On another project, he will collaborate with vibes player Dave Hagedorn and drummer Phil Hey.

On top of all that is the much-anticipated new recording by the Atlantis Quartet – which includes Bates, Wozniak, guitarist Zacc Harris and drummer Pete Hennig. It should be released in October.