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Snarky Puppy|Empire Central

Empire Central

Snarky Puppy

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It seems inevitable that the popularity of jam bands would eventually give rise to the jam big band, and first on that scene was the cross-cultural and endlessly innovative Snarky Puppy. Springing from the renowned music program at North Texas State in Denton, Texas, in 2004, and led since the beginning by bassist Michael League, the band is now more a collective with over 40 members who have passed through in the past 18 years, during which they've released 15 albums and steadily built a sizable audience for their composed and improvised blend of jazz fusion, full-on rock, and funky extended jams.  This is Snarky Puppy's third live album in a row, which makes sense given that the perky smooth jazz of this 20-piece collective dedicated to finding the necessary groove undoubtedly blossoms in front of an audience.  Their superpower, however, is sharp, compelling arranging, and finding a place and the right blend for all its nearly two dozen instrumentalists. Another star in this show is the attention to appealing textures that are built thanks to an array of new and vintage keyboards including a Mellotron, Wurlitzer ARP String Ensemble, Minimoog Model D, Fender Rhodes, and Hohner D6 Clavinet. The big brassy "Pineapple," where Snarky Puppy's three drummers and three percussionists raise a mighty din, is typical of the group's jumpier, groove side. "RL's," named for Dallas nightclub RL Griffin's Blues Palace 2,  winds up as a massive guitar shredfest only tangentially related to the blues. In "Belmont," violinist Zach Brock solos throughout. The sound is huge in all ways, at times crossing over into loud and in-your-face space where wider dynamics might have made for a more enjoyable listen. Strangely, while the entire record was recorded live at the Deep Ellum Art Company in Dallas in March, 2022, and mixed in Els Prats de Rei, Spain (where League resides), the tightest and less flamboyant groove "Mean Green," (think Average White Band) named for the North Texas mascot, does not feature the applause present elsewhere. Another applause-less tune, "Free Fall," is a trip back to the synthy 1980s of Al Jarreau and Spyro Gyra. Jam on! © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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Snarky Puppy

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1
Keep It On Your Mind
00:05:30

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, MainArtist, MusicArranger, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer, MusicArranger - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Justin Stanton, MusicArranger - Michael Kelly Rea League, Composer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - GUM UK Ltd, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

2
East Bay
00:05:11

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Chris Bullock, Arranger - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Justin Stanton, Arranger - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - CEEBULL MUSIC, MusicPublisher - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - Christopher Matthew Bullock, Composer

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

3
Bet
00:05:33

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Michael Kelly Rea League, Composer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - GUM UK Ltd, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

4
Cliroy
00:04:45

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Jay Howard Jennings, Composer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Jay Jennings, Arranger - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - YAYennings Publishing, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

5
Take It! (feat. Bernard Wright)
00:06:39

Bernard Wright, FeaturedArtist - Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Bobby Sparks II, Arranger - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Bobby Sparks Music, MusicPublisher - Bobby Ray Sparks II, Composer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

6
Portal
00:05:12

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Shaun Martin, Arranger - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Marcelo Woloski, Composer, Arranger - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - GUM UK Ltd, MusicPublisher - Marcelo Woloski Music, MusicPublisher - Shunwun, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

7
Broken Arrow
00:07:19

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Justin Stanton, Composer, Arranger - J Stant Music, MusicPublisher - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

8
RL's
00:09:22

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Michael Kelly Rea League, Composer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - GUM UK Ltd, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

9
Mean Green
00:04:54

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Nate Werth, Arranger - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - Nathaniel James Werth, Composer - Nate Werth Music, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

10
Fuel City
00:04:52

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Bill Laurance, Composer, Arranger - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Bill Laurance Music, MusicPublisher - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

11
Free Fall
00:03:50

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Justin Stanton, Composer, Arranger - J Stant Music, MusicPublisher - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

12
Belmont
00:06:29

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Michael Kelly Rea League, Composer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - GUM UK Ltd, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

13
Pineapple
00:04:56

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Michael Maher, Composer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Michael Kelly Rea League, Composer - MAZARITO MUSIC, MusicPublisher - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - GUM UK Ltd, MusicPublisher - Mike “Maz” Maher, Arranger

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

14
Honiara
00:06:50

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Zach Brock, Arranger - Michael Maher, Composer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Michael Kelly Rea League, Composer - MAZARITO MUSIC, MusicPublisher - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - GUM UK Ltd, MusicPublisher - Zachary Brock, Composer - Secret Fort Publishing, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

15
Coney Bear
00:05:16

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer, SurroundMixingSecondEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, Arranger, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Fab Dupont, SurroundMixingEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Bob Lanzetti, Arranger - Robert Joseph Lanzetti, Composer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Bobbylanz Music, MusicPublisher - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

16
Trinity
00:07:54

Dave McNair, MasteringEngineer - Michael Harrison, Engineer - Nic Hard, Engineer, MixingEngineer - Snarky Puppy, Producer, Arranger, MainArtist, CoProducer - Michael League, Producer, StudioProducer, AssistantEngineer - Matt Recchia, Engineer - Mark Lettieri, Arranger - Mark Justin Lettieri, Composer - Shakthi Prasad KT, AssistantEngineer - Skyler Childress, AssistantEngineer - Rosanna Freedman, ProductionManager - Markus Justinius Music, MusicPublisher

(C) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC (P) 2022 GroundUP Music LLC

Album review

It seems inevitable that the popularity of jam bands would eventually give rise to the jam big band, and first on that scene was the cross-cultural and endlessly innovative Snarky Puppy. Springing from the renowned music program at North Texas State in Denton, Texas, in 2004, and led since the beginning by bassist Michael League, the band is now more a collective with over 40 members who have passed through in the past 18 years, during which they've released 15 albums and steadily built a sizable audience for their composed and improvised blend of jazz fusion, full-on rock, and funky extended jams.  This is Snarky Puppy's third live album in a row, which makes sense given that the perky smooth jazz of this 20-piece collective dedicated to finding the necessary groove undoubtedly blossoms in front of an audience.  Their superpower, however, is sharp, compelling arranging, and finding a place and the right blend for all its nearly two dozen instrumentalists. Another star in this show is the attention to appealing textures that are built thanks to an array of new and vintage keyboards including a Mellotron, Wurlitzer ARP String Ensemble, Minimoog Model D, Fender Rhodes, and Hohner D6 Clavinet. The big brassy "Pineapple," where Snarky Puppy's three drummers and three percussionists raise a mighty din, is typical of the group's jumpier, groove side. "RL's," named for Dallas nightclub RL Griffin's Blues Palace 2,  winds up as a massive guitar shredfest only tangentially related to the blues. In "Belmont," violinist Zach Brock solos throughout. The sound is huge in all ways, at times crossing over into loud and in-your-face space where wider dynamics might have made for a more enjoyable listen. Strangely, while the entire record was recorded live at the Deep Ellum Art Company in Dallas in March, 2022, and mixed in Els Prats de Rei, Spain (where League resides), the tightest and less flamboyant groove "Mean Green," (think Average White Band) named for the North Texas mascot, does not feature the applause present elsewhere. Another applause-less tune, "Free Fall," is a trip back to the synthy 1980s of Al Jarreau and Spyro Gyra. Jam on! © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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