It’s taken me about two years to write about one of my favorite bands on the scene today, Snarky Puppy. With origins in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area and a current home base in Brooklyn, Snarky Puppy’s career has been nothing short of a well-oiled machine. From the Pup’s first studio album (The One Constant, 2006) to their latest, highly acclaimed release (Ground Up, 2012), their evolution has been a sonic journey for the listener as much as the musicians themselves. In short, the band’s members, and their music are all simultaneously getting better. You can catch Snarky Puppy in full force in Brooklyn on October 4, 2012.
Before the band embarked on their second massive tour of the year, I caught a triple-bill at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn, featuring sets by the guitarists Bob Lanzetti, Mark Lettieri and Chris McQueen. Lanzetti and McQueen both attended University of North Texas in Denton for jazz studies—along with many other band mates—and Lettieri is based out of DFW. All three sets were drastically different; exposing each guitarist’s personality in a more bare bones, intimate musical setting. The mission of Guitarky Puppy remained in showcasing the compositions equally, if not more than, the musicians themselves.
Bob Lanzetti’s group featured Justin Stanton, keyboards; Michael League, bass; Robert Searight, drums. Lanzetti has a definitive tone on the guitar evoking textures similar to Andy Summers (The Police) and Jeff Beck. He holds it up close to his chest, articulately picking and graciously strumming with delicate, deliberate control. Lanzetti hopes to debut his solo project on record in 2013; you can also hear his work with Underground System Afrobeat and visit his artist page here. This tune reminds me of the Americana elements that seep through players like Bill Frisell; and like Frisell, when Laznetti chooses, he rips. Here is a video (excuse the iffy audio) courtesy of Martin Cohen of congahead.com.
Mark Lettieri’s group contained the same burning rhythm section (Stanton, League and Searight). Lettieri is a bold player, who blends the precision and confidence the L.A scene, where he grew up, with the soulful sauce of Texas, where he is currently based. He also has a heavy foot in the hip-hop world, backing such acts as Erykah Badu and appearing on the upcoming Xzibit’s record Napalm.
Lettieri is an in-demand guitarist who has (finally) released his debut solo album entitled “Knows”. The record features band mates League and Searight in addition to GroundUP label mates Caleb McCampbell, synth; and Wes Stephenson bass; from the Funky Knuckles.
Closing out the night was Chris McQueen’s band Foe Destroyer. Unfortunately, the band’s gritty sound was masked in the mud of Shapeshifter Lab’s acoustics. McQueen’s sticker covered guitar is perhaps a symbol of his inner-punk, but a look at his credentials will wash away any pretense that he has stayed a narrow course. The band came into fruition in early 2010 by McQueen, Daniel Garcia (from the band Oso Closo), and longtime musical friend Cade Sadler. They have some older tracks on bandcamp and will be releasing a new record soon. In the meantime, crank this cut and dig McQueen’s lovely jazzy solo on Snarky Puppy’s “Like A Light“.