Moore by Four is one of the region’s most acclaimed vocal ensembles, their regular appearances at the Dakota throughout the 1980s and 1990s made them one of the hottest acts in town, and in turn bolstered the Dakota’s reputation for hosting top-tier music. While their performances as a group have been few and far between, the members of the ensemble have helped to make this one of the most vibrant theater scenes in the country.
Sanford Moore (composer, arranger, producer, and pianist) has shared the stage with such notable jazz artists as Bobby McFerrin, Harry Connick Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams.
In addition to his work with Moore By Four, Moore is sought after as a musical director and arranger for theatrical and choral productions. He was the musical director most recently with Penumbra Theatre’s production of Dinah Was, Mixed Blood Theatre’s production of Two Queens One Castle, written by and featuring Jevetta Steele and Hey City Theatre’s production of Smokey Joe’s Café. Other musical direction credits include Fever, a tribute to Peggy Lee featuring Connie Evingson, the Guthrie Theater’s production of Dream on Monkey Mountain (directed by Bill T. Jones), Triumph of Love, As You Like It, and the production of Crowns, in addition to Mixed Blood Theatre’s Black Belts I, II and III, featuring Jevetta Steele. He is also the creator, together with director Richard T. Thompson and choreographer Garry Q. Lewis, of an original musical review trilogy (Always and Forever, 2-Gether and Living Beauty) with Illusion Theatre. Choral experience includes work with the Dale Warland Singers, VocalEssence, the Minnesota Chorale, and the Bach Society.
One of the Twin Cities’ favorite vocalists, Connie Evingson can swing the standards with the best of them. And she can hold her own with a Beatles book. And she sounds great in a hot club/gypsy jazz setting. She has recorded CDs with all of these projects and more, and her newest, Little Did I Dream, finds her in familiar territory. A collection of songs by former St Paul native Dave Frishberg, Connie revisits his classics like “Peel Me A Grape” and “My Attorney Bernie” as well as shedding light on some lesser known tunes. She retains his inimitable cleverness in her phrasing, as well as letting her band shine.
A member of the Midwest music scene for many years, Ginger Commodore is a regular visitor to The Dakota stage. Classically trained, gospel influenced, and jazz inspired, Ginger’s musical foundation is a true amalgam of musical styles presented with her own unique delivery. A former member of Sounds of Blackness, Ginger has also been very active in the local theater scene.
Dennis Spears became known as the male voice of Moore By Four. Dennis has kept himself busy and visible ever since, performing in theater, in music ensembles, and gigging with his own band(s). He is one of the best entertainers around this area, and his renown is growing. His theater piece about Nat King Cole was presented at the Kennedy Center in spring 2010.
Yolande Bruce has performed with Moore by Four nationally and internationally, opening such legendary artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and BB King. A featured vocalist at many churches both locally and abroad, Yolande was a Minnesota Music awards nominee for Best Female Jazz Artist in 1993. Active in local theater, Yolande has appeared in Penumbra’s production of Spunk, Illusion Theater productions of 2-Gether, Living Beauty, and For Our Daughters; Big River at Mankato State University, and the Guthrie Theater’s Dream on Monkey Mountain.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
She has “her own delicious sense of swing, silken phrasing and sense of adventure”
– City Pages
“Dennis Spears’ voice isn’t just an instrument, it’s a continent: He sings of the rich earth of the south where the roots of the blues and jazz are deeply planted, of the lucid north where freedom of expression thrives. He deftly touches on the sharp sophistication of the east coast and the eclectic energy of the west, striking a common chord among us with every turn of phrase.” – M. Dodge (Criterion Jazz Review)