Last Thursday I ran into a friend of mine, who told me there was a show that night. Since I am constantly looking for good shows to hit in Montreal, I asked her what was going on. She told me the show was at La Sala Rossa, which happens to be one of my favorite venues. The name of the band? Snarky Puppy. Well now isn’t that adorable, I thought to myself, a band with a name like that couldn’t possibly do me any harm. I was wrong. Snarky Puppy burned that place to the ground.
That night I was treated to some of the greatest unabashed jazz fusion since I had the chance to see Return to Forever at the Ottawa Jazz Festival a few years back. The show was a display of pure talent, incredibly complex composition, and absolutely filthy musicianship. This music had Jaco Pastorius, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock written all over it.
Snarky Puppy is actually a collective of about 30 musicians led by their bass player, Michael League. Based out of Texas, the band currently has five albums, the two most recent of which were recorded live in front of a studio audience. I haven’t yet had a chance to really delve into these records, but everything I have heard so far has been simply dirty (the good, bluesy kind of dirty).
Now back to ranting about why all you audiophiles should be trying to catch Snarky Puppy on tour. The lineup I got that night consisted of bass, keyboards, a drummer, a percussionist, trumpet, saxophone, and guitar. Every single one of those musicians was right on cue with every hopelessly irregular beat, and was able to build on improvisational jams like few others. These are the kind of jams that will make you travel around inside the music for a while. Every note is worth hearing, every riff can knock the wind out of your lungs. These guys tackle time signatures that the vast majority of musicians (including myself) wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, and yet they do it without the slightest hint of trouble. These guys are serious about their dirt.
They actually opened the show with a couple of tunes featuring their trumpet player, Maz, as singer/songwriter and frontman. Maz has his own self-titled album, which brings a lot of Snarky Puppy’s groove, but it falls more on the R&B/soul side of things. His stuff is well worth listening to in its own right. The band also gave a welcome shout out in their final encore tune to Montreal’s own Kalmunity Jazz Project by featuring one of their many singers, whose name I unfortunately can’t remember. Her voice was power incarnate, and it was her voice that brought La Sala Rossa down for good. If you have not yet checked out Kalmunity, get on it, they do shows every Tuesday and Sunday night.
Time for me to stop talking and for you to start listening!