Say what you want to say about jazz and it’s general decline in pop culture, but for those in the know, jazz is not only alive and well but gaining new appreciators every day. This isn’t attributed to your dad’s jazz, but to new bands who are breathing life into the art form.
Nobody is blazing a trail as hot as Snarky Puppy though. There are certainly others, Kamasi Washington and Esperanza Spalding immediately come to mind. But jazz inherently requires focus from the mind.
In today’s Spotify-driven world, most people aren’t actively listening to music, yet Snarky Puppy commands that focus with their diverse sound. Their recipe starts with a jazz base and then delves into other genres and worldly music. The hook though that keeps you locked in and paying attention is their intrinsically heavy rhythm section that taps into the soul’s natural pulse. While their time signatures may be odd, they find a way to give the complex a feeling and energy. It’s never forced and very natural and that’s why their wave continues to grow.
The band just released their first studio album in eight years, titled Culcha Vulcha (review here). This is on the heels of their other release this year, Family Dinner – Volume 2, and their second Grammy win for their work with the Metropole Orkest from the Netherlands on last year’s Sylva.
On top of somehow saying the right words musically in every song they put out, they’re relentlessly releasing them. Three albums released in less than a year. The creative output is booming at peak quality levels and fans are devouring it and demanding more. This is the high potential hitting their prime and exceeding expectations. Think ’91-92 Michael Jordan versus ’95-96 Michael Jordan. Everyone in the know with Snarky knows they’re exceptional musicians, yet expectations continue to be blown away and at an alarming pace.
They’ve made jazz exciting in their own way and that’s important to continue this very special genre’s forward evolution.
This Thursday (May 5), Snarky Puppy will bring this train into Syracuse at the speed of sound. They’ll set up shop at the Landmark Theatre for anyone who wants to have their minds musically blown. Tickets are still on sale and can be snagged here. Two days later, the band will making a stop in Buffalo on Saturday (May 7) at the Town Ballroom with GroundUP artist Lucy Woodward opening the night. Tickets for that show can be grabbed here. For those active listeners out there in the western New York region, these are must see shows.