It’s not a stretch to declare Atlantis Quartet the best small jazz ensemble based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The four members have been together since 2006 while individually amassing the requisite set of merit badges, including grants, work in a bevy of other bands and side projects, and first-call status when a jazz luminary needs local support on tour. Their albums (Hello Human is their fifth) feature almost exclusively original compositions. When they perform covers, they have taken on entire records—from Sonny Rollins’ The Bridge to Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters to Led Zep’s Houses of the Holy—during live shows on Halloween.
On the surface, Hello Human is Atlantis Quartet’s most conservative outing, hewing closer to a postbop template than ever before. In reality, they’ve sacrificed a little stylistic breadth for more daring ensemble interplay. Variety comes from the apportionment of their original compositions: three apiece by guitarist Zacc Harris, drummer Pete Hennig, and bassist Chris Bates (who also tucks in a two-minute solo bass tune), with tenor saxophonist Brandon Wozniak laying out from writing duties this time.