Kung Fu and Snarky Puppy Rock the NYC Waterfront

Written by: Garrett Montgomery with Photos by: Marc Hall

Snarky Puppy at the Watermark

NYC based Snarky Puppy played their last hometown show of the year at the Watermark Bar and Lounge located at Pier 15 in Manhattan Saturday night. After Kung Fu got the pier rocking harder than the adjacent barges in the East River, Snarky Puppy wrapped the night up led by bassist/music director Michael League with eight other pups displaying their wide range of jazzy jams.

A cool wind blew in from the direction of the setting sun as Kung Fu opened the night with a wholesome set of funk. “We’re Kung Fu, and we’re here for you!” guitarist Tim Palmieri quipped early in the set to a huge applause.

Kung Fu

Clearly enjoying themselves on stage, the Connecticut quintet exuded an air of total confidence jamming for the Lower East Side crowd. Drummer Adrian Tramontano abused his set in the best way and bassist Chris DeAngelis was the heart of the funk.  With bright orangey-pink rays of sun bouncing off the city skyscrapers, Kung Fu’s set concluded with grooving dual saxes.

Horny puppies.

As darkness set in, Snarky Puppy took the reins in spectacular fashion.  Justin Stanton and Mike “Maz” Maher were in sync blaring out trumpet duets and sounded equally sharp taking turns soloing. Chris Bullock anchored the brass section for the night, playing a highly emotive saxophone into the unseasonably brisk city air.

The Brooklyn-based band, which formed in Texas in 2004, won its first Grammy earlier this year. “Something”, the fifth track off their 2013 album Family Dinner- Volume 1 earned the award. The tune—an all-around hit— features velvety trumpeting, quaking bass, and a stirring performance by Lalah Hathaway on vocals. The recent success has helped launch the band to an all-time level with widespread critical acclaim, playing to audiences worldwide.

With the bright lights of the big city shining, Snarky Puppy transitioned seamlessly between blues, jazz, and soul. I strolled around the pier, soaking in the view of the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground and the Manhattan Bridge behind it, connecting the boroughs. Thudding bass vibrations floated my way, and I couldn’t help but to snap and bop while walking.

The Brooklyn Bridge in background, stage left.

Robert “Sput” Searight and Nate Werth kept the beat on drums and percussion all night, changing tempo between slow R&B jams that would escalate into soulful clap-along funk.  Cory Henry and Bill Lawrence split duties on the keys while Bob Lanzetti rounded out the Puppy-pack on the guitar.  As a whole, the group showcased creative and well-rounded composition skills.  Their ability to improvise equally adroitly places them at the top of their music game.  Despite the chilly temperatures, Snarky Puppy followed Kung Fu’s lead and rocked NYC’s Watermark late into the night.