(Royal Albert Hall. 14 November 2019. Review by Lauren Bush)
The “Brooklyn-Based jazz funk fusion collective” Snarky Puppy have developed an unwavering mass of fans young and old. As the 12-piece band poured onto the stage on Thursday night, this 5,000 strong fan base whooped and hollered excitedly.
As the room sat in darkness, a solo guitar started with a beautifully simple mournful melody, soon joined one-by-one by the rest of the band. Before long, an epic feast for the senses had built up. Each composition moved through this mellow simplicity to raucous cacophony again and again, and though it seemed formulaic at times, each groove was different and each soloist brought something new to the music.
These guys have mastered the art of the “show” – a true stadium style gig with the spectacle and atmosphere of a rock concert, but the discerning ears of a jazz crowd. Each musician has at least one piece where their solo is a feature. Mike Maher played some particularly inventive and lyrical solos on trumpet and flugelhorn. Individually, the band are geniuses on their own instruments, but they also embrace effects, especially in the keyboards, featuring many different synthesizers and a Talk Box, on which Shaun Martin had the crowd completely and totally hooked on Sleeper. Rather than headbanging and crowd surfing, this serious audience was entrusted with an exercise of clapping a 3-over-4 syncopated rhythm while the band played a song called Xavi from their newest album Immigrance.
This gig was a special one as it was being recorded as a live album. Leader and bassist Michael League announced near the end that there was a “Silver Bullet” parked round the back of the concert hall that had been mixing and producing the music in real time and that guests could queue up and receive the first digital mix of the gig 15 minutes after the show ended.
All in all, Snarky Puppy never seem to disappoint. They have contributed a lot to the way jazz has changed and grown in the last 10 years and they keep coming up with new and innovative ideas to add to their appeal.
Categories: Live review