Mark Lettieri (guitar) and Shaun Martin (keys) are two long-time members of the world’s greatest funk-jazz-world band Snarky Puppy and they brought their individual and collective magic to Fountaine Lewis’ Jazz and Jokes Atlanta at Venkman’s in the Old Fourth Ward.

Mark was featuring cuts from his 2016 release Spark and Echo and showed his versatility and dexterity — he can move stylistically from near-metal shredding to jamtronica to funk to jazz all with equal.  Check out this clip from early in his set – Mark Lettieri Live.   Spark and Echo is a fine 10 track set.  I particularly like the Goonsquad opener as well as the reprise at the end.  Mark’s take on Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World is a beautiful rendition as well. Summer Salt a minimalist bluesy tune with a clean, fresh tone and is followed up with Montreal, an introspective, with a very clear “voice” in his timing and tone.  Mark’s playing takes me back to my joyful times listening to The Yellow Jackets, Spyro Gyra, and Earl Klugh.

Preview Spark and Echo

Shaun was up next and was highlighting his first (yes, it’s unbelievable) release 7 Summers which apparently had been in the work for, yup, 7 years! It was worth the wait. Shaun also moves his release through many instrumental, vocal and stylistic changes.  After the Introduction explaining the genesis of the project, he moves right into a New Orleans style , near brass-band like, dance number One Big Party and the title says it all.  It’s a burner from end to end, complete with handclaps and a great sax solo by Snarky Puppy’s Chris Bullock.  It’s followed by a sparkling Sean solo on piano.  Another favorite of mine is Lotus which brings back memories of Joe Sample (The Crusaders) one of my all-time keyboard favorites.  The recording features a range of musicians including Mark Lettieri, Michael League, Sput Searight and Chris Bullock from Snarky Puppy.  There are several vocal tracks as well and a particularly beautiful one is Have Your Change at Love, featuring Nikki Ross.  Sean moves through jazz, classical, funk and especially gospel influences melding everything into a savory jambalaya of a recording.  Check out Sean’s opener here Sean Martin Live.

Listen to 7 Summers

Opening the show was Atlanta’s own The 4 Korners — perhaps the hottest group in the city right now.  The group has just released it’s second disc and they are blazing.  Definitely a group that I look forward to seeing more of.  Their website describes their music thusly “With influences from Chick Corea Elektric Band, Dave Weckl Band, Yellowjackets and Tribal Tech, The 4 Korners have completed their second album titled “Portal of Gold” that released through Rope-a-Dope records on October 28th, 2016. This brotherhood started with Clarence Hill (Keys), James Thompson (Bass) and Isaac Thompson (Guitar) around the late 90’s early 2000’s. Jerrod Sullivan (Drums) joined the band in 2014 and has been a great addition to the band. They aspire to reignite the music scene with their passionate, high energy sound of original live instrumental music. They put their hearts and souls into every piece that they compose and their audiences always feel it. Although they are in the jazz fusion genre, they prefer to call it “Journey Music,” encouraging the listener to take a musical joyride from start to finish. Just let your mind run free and enjoy the ride as you listen to the sound of The 4 Korners!”  I wholeheartedly agree.

Check out Portal of Gold