It might be said that the riskiest thing about the sleek jazz quartet Fourplay is the name. Sure, there's a nod-and-a wink aspect, but "fourplay" more accurately indicates the true, interactive nature of founders Bob James on keyboards, Harvey Mason on percussion, and bassist Nathan East. The relative newcomer is guitarist Chuck Loeb, who in 2010 replaced Larry Carlton, who had taken over for Lee Ritenour. Anyway, particularly with Loeb on board, Fourplay takes an ensemble approach that unveils the band's strengths in subtle ways, working off one another's ideas and adding splashes of tonal colors and textures that take many of its pieces beyond the smooth jazz realm they're sometimes relegated to. On last fall's Esprit de Four, the group's affection for strong melodies — which has fueled its crossover popularity — is readily evident. Loeb's dynamic "Sonnymoon" is a nice juxtaposition of funky rhythms and fluid runs. But the most emotional piece is James's "Put Our Hearts Together," inspired by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and sung evocatively by Japanese vocal star Seiko Matsuda. (Photo by Sonny Abelardo)
Mondays, Sundays, 7 & 9 p.m. Starts: May 12. Continues through May 13, 2013

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Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

1010 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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