January 15, 2016 was the second day of the Tucson Jazz Festival and it was a great one! Snarky Puppy headlined the Rialto Theatre and it was a reminder that Jazz does have a young, rabid fan base. The house was packed and their blend of modern jazz-fusion was captivating and exciting!
The show opened with Nir Felder an up and coming guitarist from New York City. He graduated from the Berklee College of Music and since then he has become a staple sideman in the city. Mr. Felder ‘s trio was Orlando LeFleming on bass and Jimmy McBride on drums for this show. Felder plays jazz guitar at its best. His sound was reminiscent of Pat Metheny. Selections for the show came from his 2014 album, Golden Age. The debut album has been touted as one of the top albums of 2014. Nir Felder played a passionate, creative, and melodic set. He was a perfect match for Snarky Puppy.
By the time Snarky Puppy took the stage, the house was bursting at the seams with fans that were incredibly excited to have the Snarky Puppy experience. Their reputation for blowing the roof off the house quickly proved to be true. The band consisted of Michael League-bandleader and bass, Larnell Lewis-drums, Justin Stanton-keyboards, Mike Maher-trumpet, Bob Lanzetti-guitar, Mark Lettieri- guitar, Jay Jennings-trumpet, Chris Bullock-tenor sax, and percussionist (unknown). Each musician had an opportunity to play solo and show his magnificence. Creative blending of the instruments by the sound engineers produced a much larger sound than the nine musicians on stage.
Three of the selections from the set list were from their 2014 album, We Like It Here. The rest of the set consisted of songs from the rest of their albums. They released their album, Sylva, in 2015. As Michael remarked, “to keep from getting bored, we are releasing a new album in two weeks, Family Dinner, Vol. 2. “ This new album is a live recording and they were going to ‘The Screening Room’ down the street after the set for a public viewing of the accompanying DVD. A complete set list of this show is here. (Thank you Michael League for the set list!)
It was obvious that this band of jazz-fusion musicians have hit a cord with our youth with their original music. There is a balance between the traditional jazz and newer raw funk, melodicism and soulful improvisation. This was a standing room event and the crowd was waiting on the floor early for this show. The average attendee was college aged. There were some silver-haired fans as well, particularly in the balcony. The fan reverie was exhibited by heads bobbing and feet moving to the beats generated by Snarky Puppy both on the floor and in the balcony. The last song of the set was adorned with a driving drum solo by Larnell Lewis that was riveting. The show was over far too soon and the crowd was not ready for it to end. They screamed for an encore for what seemed like a long time, but the encore did not come. Many fans were disappointed, but time constraints did not allow for more Snarky Puppy.
UA Presents production of is scheduled for Sunday. This will be a promo jazz experience. Tickets are still available here.