Snarky Puppy: How a bunch of college kids became a Grammy-winning global concern
In 13 years, Snarky Puppy have grown from a cult progressive jazz unit at a Texas college into a Grammy-winning collective touring the world. Leader Michael League tells us more
There was a lovely moment near the end of Snarky Puppy’s recent sold-out show at The Tramshed, Cardiff. The band had finished fan favourite Shofukan to wild applause and began trooping off the stage, only for the 1,000-strong Welsh crowd to sing the song’s hugely catchy brass hook back at them, arms in the air, eyes closed, pulling the notes from their very souls. You could see all nine players looking out across the room, then back at each other, wowed, taken aback by the sheer love, and sheer volume. Later, their bass player, founder, leader and composer-in-chief Michael League would call this show “hands down my favourite gig of the world tour to date”.
He had plenty to choose from. Their 2017 series of shows is the most extensive and well-attended of Snarky Puppy’s 13-year career. It’s in support of their 11th album Culcha Vulcha, current holder of the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. The night before Cardiff they played their biggest ever date on their own ticket – Brixton Academy, 5,000 people. So after a slew of acclaimed albums, three Grammy wins and a tireless approach to touring, the Texas-formed, Brooklyn-based instrumental collective are no longer just whispered about affectionately by the muso, jazz fusion cognoscenti – they’ve almost risen without trace, a name known in ever increasing circles.