Snarky Puppy Bio
The last four years have brought dramatic changes for Snarky Puppy.
After a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred/New York-based quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all four of the band’s Grammy® awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016, 2017, and 2021), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of the New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.”
Snarky Puppy is a collective of sorts with as many as 25 members in regular rotation. They each maintain busy schedules as sidemen (with such artists as Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and D’Angelo), producers (for Kirk Franklin, David Crosby, and Salif Keïta), and solo artists (many of whom are on the band’s indy label, GroundUP Music). At its core, the band represents the convergence of both black and white American music culture with various accents from around the world. Japan, Argentina, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico all have representation in the group’s membership. But more than the cultural diversity of the individual players, the defining characteristic of Snarky Puppy’s music is the joy of performing together in the perpetual push to grow creatively.
The band was formed by bassist and primary composer Michael League in 2003, starting inconspicuously enough as a group of college friends at the University of North Texas’ Jazz Studies program. Three years later, a serendipitous intersection with the Dallas gospel and R&B community in Dallas transformed the music into something funkier, more direct, and more visceral. It was at this time that the group absorbed musicians like Robert “Sput” Searight (drums), Shaun Martin (keyboards), and Bobby Sparks (keyboards), and were heavily influenced by legendary keyboardist Bernard Wright (Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller).
September 25, 2020
Tell Your Friends (Remixed & Remastered) (2020)
Remixed and remastered edition of the 2010 Tell Your Friends, including two bonus tracks that were only available on the original DVD.
The original version of Tell Your Friends was released in 2010, almost ten years from the date of this, its re-release. It was Snarky Puppy's first foray into recording and filming in-studio live albums, leading to the band's first global impression and YouTube sensations. And while this recording was especially tumultuous, it was largely held together by our new engineer, Eric Hartman. He had engineered a good amount of and helped mix our previous album, Bring Us the Bright, but this was his first time in the driver's seat with us. Between borrowed equipment, a hilariously low budget (four figures), and a band that had never done anything like this before, the session was a complete mess. Over the three days we were there, no one saw him sleep until after the last performance. He was fully clothed, under the recording desk.
From his home base in Dallas, Eric went on to engineer and mix the albums GroundUP, Family Dinner - Volume One, We Like It Here, Sylva, and a good deal of Family Dinner - Volume Two. While on tour in Montreal in 2015, nearing the tail end of the mixing process for Family Dinner, we received news that Eric had suddenly and tragically passed away. We were destroyed. He worked with many individual members of the Snarky Puppy and GroundUP label families on their own respective projects, and brought a level of (badly-needed) calm and conscientiousness to every project he touched.
Michael League was living in New York at the time, working frequently with the immensely talented engineer Nic Hard. Nic was the obvious choice for the band, with an aesthetic completely opposite to that of Eric. If we were going to be forced to change sonic directions, we wanted to do it in a big way. Nic engineered and mixed Culcha Vulcha, Immigrance, Live at Royal Albert Hall, and hundreds of live concerts for Snarky Puppy. While recording these new projects alongside Nic, we decided to start releasing on vinyl, in reverse chronological order, all of our previous titles. It was relatively low-maintenance as the final mixes for each had been sitting inside of dust-covered hard drives in my studio. That was, until, we got to Tell Your Friends. It wasn't there.
Everything we had recorded was on the drive, but the mixes were gone. Not a trace of the work Eric and Michael had done in Dallas. Just the raw audio, exactly as it was the minute after we played the last note of the night at Dockside Studio in Louisiana. It goes without saying that this was a serious problem, but it also presented a unique opportunity. What if Nic remixed it? We already had Eric's mix out in the world, but we were physically incapable of using it to produce the vinyl master. So, why not use it as a chance to get a second perspective on the exact same performance? Remixes and remasters are not unusual in this day and age, but very rarely do they happen out of absolute necessity.
What you have in front of you is the first live album of a completely unknown band, recorded in Louisiana by Eric Hartman and mixed a decade later in New York by Nic Hard (and mastered by Dave McNair)- an unexpected collaboration with a thread woven through ten years of music and friendship.
Enjoy the new perspective.
March 13, 2020
Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2020)
March 15, 2019
Immigrance, the new Snarky Puppy studio album, is all about movement. "The idea here is that everything is fluid, that everything is always moving and that we’re all in a constant state of immigration," explains Michael League. "Obviously the album’s title is not without political undertones."
Like Culcha Vulcha, Immigrance is a studio project, and it features most of the same musicians. And though it shares that project’s ace musicianship and dynamic, kinetic spirit, it is also more raw and moodier than its predecessor. Several of the compositions put a newfound emphasis on delivering simpler, streamlined impact. With Immigrance, Snarky Puppy is essentially practicing what it’s preached all along: People from different places can bring their various strengths and experiences, and that can be beautiful and cohesive. The band itself is a representation of that musical expression.
April 29, 2016
Culcha Vulcha (2016)
February 12, 2016
Family Dinner, Vol. 2 (2016)
Family Dinner, Volume Two is the second in a series which began with 2014’s Grammy Award-winning album, Family Dinner, Volume One. The chart-topping, fusion-influenced Snarky Puppy make exploratory jazz, rock, and funk, and here they act as "backing band" to some of the world’s greatest vocalists, musicians and songwriters including David Crosby, Becca Stevens, Laura Mvula, Salif Keita, Ivan Neville and Jeff Coffin. The accompanying DVD disc includes performances of 2 bonus songs not included in this double 180-gram vinyl version, plus a digital download card of the album is included inside as well.
May 26, 2015
Released on May 26 via Impulse!/Universal Music Classics, Sylva is the first time the band has joined forces with an orchestra. The 60-minute suite was recorded and filmed live with the multi-Grammy-winning Metropole Orkest orchestra from the Netherlands, for whom it was specifically written. It topped 4 separate Billboard and iTunes charts upon release.
February 25, 2014
We Like It Here (2014)
From the moment Snarky Puppy played its first overseas show to a sold-out London crowd, they felt at home in Europe. Recorded and filmed live with a studio audience over 4 nights in the Netherlands, We Like It Here captures the band at its most explorative point in its career, in both composition and improvisation. The film also contains over an hour of interviews, behind the scenes tour footage in Europe, and alternate solo takes from the recording sessions.
September 24, 2013
Family Dinner, Vol. 1 (2013)
Inspired by a music series that the band runs in New York City, Family Dinner - Volume One is a live DVD featuring 8 different vocalists with Snarky Puppy as the backing band. Genre morphs from track to track with performances by Lalah Hathaway, Lucy Woodward, N'Dambi, Magda Giannikou, Shayna Steele, Chantae Cann, Tony Scherr, and Malika Tirolien. The album was recorded and filmed in the beautiful Shaftman Performance Hall at Jefferson Center in Roanoke, VA in March 2013.
July 30, 2013
A collaboration between Snarky Puppy and the young Burundian refugee Bukuru Celestin. Made by possible by a grant from Chamber Music America, Amkeni fuses traditional central African music with the band's unique take on Bukuru's songs. It was recorded in February 2013 at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, VA.
March 27, 2012
groundUP was filmed and recorded live over 3 nights in legendary bassist Matt Garrison's new Brooklyn performance space, Shapeshifter Lab, in front of a 40-person studio audience. Similar to the setting of their last several live albums/DVDs, the project captures the rawness and spontaneity of Snarky Puppy's live energy, but this time in a stripped-down Brooklyn warehouse.
September 28, 2010
Tell Your Friends (2010)
The first of Snarky Puppy's live, in-studio DVD/albums, Tell Your Friends was filmed and recorded in one night at the cozy swamp-set Dockside Studio in Maurice, Louisiana, and is the band's debut release on Ropeadope Records. It marks the first recorded appearance of Grammy Award-winner Shaun Martin on organ and Moog, and a live 30-person studio audience.
October 2, 2008
Bring Us The Bright (2008)
Snarky Puppy's third studio album is the first recording of the band after it melded with the Dallas music community. Featuring keyboardists Bernard Wright and Bobby Sparks as well as drummer/keyboardist Robert "Sput" Searight, Bring Us the Bright is a noticeable departure into a brand new landscape of grooves and textures. It was recorded in Dallas, TX in April 2008 and mixed by Chris Godbey (Timbaland).
May 2, 2007
The World Is Getting Smaller (2007)
The second studio album from Snarky Puppy, The World is Getting Smaller features two live drummers (Rob Avsharian and Steve Pruitt) panned left and right (as well as a guest appearance from master percussionist Jose Aponté), and marks a compositional departure from The Only Constant. It was recorded as most of the band was leaving college at the University of North Texas in 2007.
March 6, 2006
The Only Constant (2006)
Here's where it all started! Made all the way back in 2005 and released in '06, The Only Constant is a snapshot of the band in its infancy as students at the University of North Texas. It features 5 very, very different tracks by Michael League and has a more open and acoustic sound than any other of Snarky Puppy's albums.