|Origin||Denton, Texas, United States|
|Genres||Jazz, funk, fusion, pop, rock, world|
Snarky Puppy is an American instrumental ensembleled by bassist Michael League. Snarky Puppy combines a variety of jazz idioms, rock, world music, and funk and has won four Grammy Awards. Although the band has worked with vocalists, League described Snarky Puppy as "a pop band that improvises a lot, without vocals".
The band was formed as a 10-piece group by Michael League in Denton, Texas, after his second year at the University of North Texas, in 2004, “Because I was so bad,” he claimed, “I didn’t place into any of the school ensembles. So Snarky Puppy was my way of getting to play.”The group has grown into an international super-band made up of "...a wide-ranging assemblage of musicians known affectionately as 'The Fam'." In more than 17 years since its founding, about 40 players have performed in "The Fam" on guitar, bass, keyboards, woodwinds, brass, strings, drums, and percussion, but six of the 10 members on the first studio album The Only Constant remain on the regular roster. Many past and present band members were students at the University of North Texas.
Members have performed with Erykah Badu, Marcus Miller, Justin Timberlake, Stanley Clarke, Kirk Franklin, Ari Hoenig, Roy Hargrove, David Crosby, Michael McDonald, Snoop Dogg, and many other artists. While touring, the band has given clinics, workshops, and master classes in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and most members either lead or are primary players in other working recording bands.
In 2005, League self-released the band's unofficial first album Live at Uncommon Ground. Snarky Puppy's next three albums were released independently, after which Tell Your Friends, groundUP, Family Dinner: Volume One, and We Like It Here were released on the band's GroundUP imprint on Ropeadope.
The album We Like It Here was performed and recorded live in October 2013 at the artistic compound Kytopia in Utrecht, Netherlands.
On January 26, 2014, Snarky Puppy and vocalist Lalah Hathaway won a Grammy Award in the Best R&B Performance category for their rendition of the Brenda Russell song "Something" from Family Dinner – Volume 1 .Sylva debuted at number one on the Billboard magazine Heatseekers Chart, the Jazz Album chart, and the Contemporary Jazz Album chart. The album won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. The album Culcha Vulcha (2016) won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Friday 26 April 2019, the band released the first bonus track from Immigrance. Immigrance is the latest evolution of the band as League noted to David Browne in Rolling Stone: “We’re more into setting up nice grooves that we like and sitting with things a bit longer.”
Although the band had recorded several albums with a small audience of friends, family, and guests in the studio with them, its first true "live, in-concert" album was Live at the Royal Albert Hall ' recorded before a sold-out crowd at the historic London venue. The album won the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
A second "live, in-concert" album, "Live at GroundUP Music Festival" was released in the Spring of 2022. The album consists of a single performance from each of the GroundUP Music Festival's first four seasons, none of which had been included in the "Live at the Royal Albert Hall" album.
In March, 2022, the band recorded their forthcoming album, Empire Central, at the Deep Ellum Art Company in Dallas, Texas.
With the release of the album GroundUP in 2012, Snarky Puppy started its own imprint, GroundUP Music, on Ropeadope Records.It was inspired by the idea of helping lesser-known artists capitalize on Snarky Puppy's growing fanbase. In 2016, GroundUP Music left Ropeadope and partnered with Universal Music for three years of releases and is now a fully independent label. It has released albums by David Crosby, Snarky Puppy, Becca Stevens, Bokanté, Banda Magda, Alina Engibaryan, Charlie Hunter, Breastfist, Sirintip, Mark Lettieri, House of Waters, PRD Mais, Roosevelt Collier, Forq, Lucy Woodward, The Funky Knuckles, Michelle Willis, Cory Henry, Justin Stanton, Bill Laurance, and Maz.
In 2017, the GroundUP Music Festival, also known as GUMFest, debutedwithin the grounds of the North Beach Band Shell in North Beach, Miami. The first GroundUP Music Festival was initiated by Andy Hurwitz, directed by Paul Lehr, and artistically directed by Michael League. The festival features performances by Snarky Puppy all three nights, with a line-up curated by League that has featured Michael McDonald, Cecile McLorin Salvant, David Crosby, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, The Wood Brothers, Robert Glasper, Knower, Concha Buika, C4 Trio, Pedrito Martinez, Jojo Mayer + Nerve, Mark Guiliana's Beat Music, John Medeski's Mad Skillet, Charlie Hunter Trio, Laura Mvula, Eliades Ochoa, Esperanza Spalding, Lionel Loueke, Joshua Redman, Terence Blanchard, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, MARO, and Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band as well as the full GroundUP Music roster, among others. Through February 2020 (and prior to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic), GroundUP Music Festival, Miami, had become an annual event.
Snarky Puppy is sometimes referred to as a "collective." The band's current roster boasts about 19 members, and well over 40 musicians have performed with the group over the years and through the group's 14 albums. Michael League explains that, in the early days of the original 10-piece band, if someone got an opportunity to earn more money than for the band's gig, "...we'd get a substitute and if the substitute played well, then it felt like, 'Well, they learned the music and played great, what a waste for them to learn all that for one gig...' so we would kind of just keep them in the Rolodex, so to speak, and rotate them in and out. Then it became a thing where we started touring so much that guys couldn't do all the dates, or didn't want to, or whatever." When people came in, the differences in their playing would influence all those on the date. "That would change the way that they played the music. And then even when that new person left, that memory of that new relationship with the music would remain. So really we just kept building on the personalities of the new people that would come in, brick by brick. ...in general, the guys understand what the band is– a rotating cast... But I don't really think of Snarky Puppy as a collective. It's just a large band and sometimes people aren't there. It doesn't feel like a revolving door, it doesn't feel anonymous at all. The guys who have played gigs with us the least have still played several hundred gigs. That's more than most people play with their own bands. So it's very much a tight, familial unit. Everyone feels very, very close and very essential, also."
Members listed on the notes of album Immigrance (2019):
Wayne Shorter is an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Shorter came to prominence in the late 1950s as a member of, and eventually primary composer for, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. In the 1960s, he joined Miles Davis's Second Great Quintet, and then co-founded the jazz fusion band Weather Report. He has recorded over 20 albums as a bandleader.
Ropeadope Records is an American record label known for recordings in a variety of genres including jazz, hip hop, gospel, and electronic music. The label, now led by Louis Marks, was founded in 1999 by Andy Hurwitz in New York City and later moved to Philadelphia.
Bob Reynolds is an American jazz tenor saxophonist. A solo recording artist since 2000, he has been a member of the popular "genre-bending" instrumental group Snarky Puppy since 2014, winning Grammy Awards with the band for the albums Culcha Vulcha and Live at the Royal Albert Hall,.
Gretchen Parlato is an American jazz singer. She has performed and recorded with musicians such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller and Lionel Loueke.
Lucy Woodward is an English-American singer-songwriter. She has recorded for Atlantic, Verve, and GroundUP and has sung background vocals for Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Snarky Puppy, Celine Dion, Pink Martini, Gavin DeGraw, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Nikka Costa, and Randy Jackson. She co-wrote Stacie Orrico's Top 40 hit "(There's Gotta Be) More to Life".
Becca Stevens is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist who draws upon elements of jazz, chamber pop, indie rock, and folk.
Jules Buckley is an English conductor, composer, and arranger.
Sylva is an album by American jazz fusion group Snarky Puppy that was released on May 26, 2015. It was a collaboration between the band and the Metropole Orkest from the Netherlands. It won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. According to Michael League, each song on the album is about a different forest.
Cory Alexander Henry is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, organist, record producer and trombonist. A former member of Snarky Puppy, Henry launched his solo artist career with Art of Love, his first independent release. On October 30, 2020, he released his sophomore full-length project called Something to Say which included Marc E. Bassy written track "No Guns". That same year he released Art of Love Live and Christmas With You both under Culture Collective management and records.
Culcha Vulcha is an album by American jazz fusion group Snarky Puppy that was released on April 29, 2016. The album includes performances by a number of musicians associated with the band and called "the Fam". The band's first studio album in eight years since Bring Us the Bright, it was recorded at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas near El Paso and Atlantic Sound Studios in Brooklyn, New York, by Nic Hard.
Michael League is an American composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. He is the bandleader of New York-based instrumental band Snarky Puppy and the international music ensemble Bokanté. He also founded the band Forq with keyboardist Henry Hey, and is also an owner and founder of the record label GroundUP Music. League has won four Grammy Awards.
Forq is an American jazz fusion band from New York and Texas.
Malika Tirolien is a Montreal-based singer-songwriter and pianist. She sang on the Grammy Award winning album Family Dinner – Volume 1 by Snarky Puppy.
Larnell Lewis is a Canadian drummer, composer, producer, and educator. He is most well known for playing drums with the Brooklyn-based jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy.
Immigrance is the thirteenth album by American jazz fusion group Snarky Puppy. It was released on March 15, 2019 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart in the United States.
Bill Laurance is an English composer, producer, and multi-instrumental musician. Laurance is a member of jazz fusion and funk band Snarky Puppy, as well as founder and CEO of London-based record label Flint Music.
Zach Brock is an American jazz violinist and composer. He was a member of Snarky Puppy from 2007 to 2011 and in 2016. He worked with Stanley Clarke, Phil Markowitz, and Dave Liebman, as well as leading his own groups.
Shaun Martin is an American composer, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumental musician. Martin is a member of the jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy, as well as music director for Gospel music star Kirk Franklin, and former Minister of Music at Dallas’ Friendship-West Baptist Church. Martin has been awarded four Grammies for his work with Franklin and two as a member of Snarky Puppy.
Live at the Royal Albert Hall is the fourteenth album by the American jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy and the group's first live, in-concert album for general release. It was recorded on November 14, 2019, and released on March 6, 2020. The album was released in sets of 2 CDs, 3 LPs, or 2 CDs and 3 LPs. The release won a Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Mark Lettieri is an American guitarist, composer and producer. He is a member of the jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy, funk band The Fearless Flyers, and performs with his trio, the Mark Lettieri Trio. His background spans several genres including jazz, rock and funk. He has released six solo albums. His 2021 album Deep: The Baritone Sessions Vol. 2 was nominated for a Grammy award.