After completing the West Coast leg and two shows in the mountain west region of the US, the Pup’s continued further north to the tiny city of Jackson Hole with a population of less than 10,000. Jackson Hole is surrounded by the very elegant Teton County Mountains where I believe some of the band went walking on their day off after the show. The concert took place in a brand new performing arts center in the middle of town – although you wouldn’t know with two stories being as tall as any building gets. I was amazed by how many people attended the concert, so I suppose people from other parts of Wyoming drove into Jackson just to see the pup’s perform. They played a diverse setlist with lots of classics, and a very, very special tune of Marcelo’s called Bardis (one of the bonus tracks from Immigrance) which was never played live again. I remember Mark saying something along the lines of it being too difficult. My highlights would include versions of Flood, Semente, Tarova, Sleeper and Ready Wednesday (with Roosevelt Collier soloing on lap steel guitar) and of course the one and only live version of Bardis. I really hope they give Bardis another crack when they get playing again as it’s such an amazing tune. Overall, this was a very special show that I don’t think has gotten much recognition. This show would definitely end up in a Top 10 list.
Flood – Mark opens the show with a fairly short intro to the classic Snarky song. He experiments with lots of non-diatonic harmony for a change rather than sticking strictly to the E major tonality. His tone is nice and ‘glassy’ with a crisp brightness. He starts the tune off at a medium tempo with a good amount of syncopation. Mike, JT, Marcelo, Bobby and Justin creep in with some very simple ideas. Justin adds some very subtle volume swells with the Rhodes, Bobby plays around with rhythmic chordal ideas on the key parts of the beat like the ‘and of 5.’ JT keeps the groove very consistent with just a few parts of the kit and Mike plays a few simple low E bass notes. The horn + violin section sounds fat; double saxophone makes a huge difference. When the horns drop out for the 4 bars in the middle of the head, JT picks up the groove significantly and it gets real funky. Justin plays some nice improvised melodies on the Prophet 6. The B section is super calm and ambient. Justin and Bobby shine with some shimmering chords on synth and organ respectively and JT almost lays out. Marcelo really adds the cherry on top here with some beautiful textural percussion work. The next A section is funky again, but still quite sparse. Justin takes the solo on the Prophet with a highly modulated, but very smooth tone. It sounds kind of like he was playing through an old tape machine. Mike drops out for the start leaving Justin alone with Mark and the drum/percussion section. His lines flow together and he uses lots of legato articulation. He highlights the Dorian mode quite a lot on the C# minor chords. After the little break in the middle with the horn lines, Justin goes full-on virtuosity mode with a tone of insanely fast notes. Bobby sustains some organ chords to add as much power to the harmony. A very nice, but also quite a short solo from Justin. JT takes his time in his solo underneath the meandering horn lines and guitar arpeggios. Bobby and Justin add some tasteful chords beneath him to help shape the dynamics and atmosphere. JT brings it right down before the crescendo before building it up again but much faster. He goes power mode here. Bobby changes from a wobbly organ sound to a more plain sound before the ‘drop.’ Mike switches on the octaver and plays a much more syncopated and simple bassline to normal. Justin keeps the Rhodes chords going which blends in nicely with the horns when they enter again. During the refrain, Justin adds some high pitched arpeggios on the Rhodes to compliment Mark’s line. The outro is really high energy with a ton of organ from Bobby and some searing lead work from Mark. The final chord gets held for ages! A great version of Flood to welcome the first time Wyoming audience.
Bardis – Marcelo starts off his tune with some expressive percussion work before Mark plays the riff on guitar with some tremolo. The slow, pulsating groove picks up with the low pitched piano bassline and with JT’s massive bass drum and snare drum sound. The melody has such a nice blend with the 2 saxophones. The B section has a beautiful descending chord progression with such a lyrical melody. The second A section has some amazing harmonies from the horns and sees Bullock switch to the soprano sax. Marcelo’s percussion playing is really nice and upfront in this mix despite all the complex melodic/harmonic arrangements. The solo section is super eerie and gets a lyrical soprano sax solo from Bullock. Bobby adds some really tasteful comping on the organ and the bassline is always so powerful even in the quieter sections. Bullock takes lots of quick bursts of speedy lines before leaving lots of space. He incorporates longer, high pitched notes and screeches towards the end and Bobby joins in with some sustained chords. Bobby reharmonizes a bit of the solo section too. A really cool sax solo from Bullock here. The B section melody returns with some nice call and responses between Bullock and the rest of the horns. Mark plays the main riff again and Bobby adds some more textures underneath. Bardis is such a great tune. Mad props to Marcelo for this one. I hope they play it again as it’s really awesome.
Semente – Things segue straight into Semente without any solo intro. This one sounds fairly similar to the album version as both flute and sax are playing at the same time thanks to the addition of Bob in the lineup. Zach Brock doubles the flute melody on violin which adds some more definition to the higher register. The bit before the solo section is very spooky with a very string-like synth patch from Justin on the Prophet. The percussion shines through clearly once again in this mix. Bullock adds some nice improvised lines in between his flute melody. Zach Brock takes the solo here with a very acoustic sound with some really tasty lines. The solo section as a whole starts very quietly with hardly any harmonic accompaniment apart from just Mike on bass and the drum/percussion groove. Bobby and Justin slowly find their way in and the groove gets very funky but in a very subtle kind of way. Mike’s bassline starts becoming slightly chordal and he uses a higher register at the very end. The overall feel of this version is very acoustic sounding with hardly any effects used by anyone. The Jackson Hole Center for the Arts is a very nice sounding room with carefully treated acoustics and this mix is squeaky clear. The outro is very eerie and features lots of delay and reverb effects for the first time. Mike uses some harmonics and bass wah to segue into the next tune.
Tarova – Justin starts this one off on Prophet like usual before Mike comes in with the sub-octave bassline. JT keeps the groove very simple. Bobby gets a solo on his own for the beginning. He starts with lots of reverb and that gives the organ a pretty different sound. He explores lots of bluesy lines and leaves lots of space for the groove to grow. Right at the moment where it sounds like Bobby would play the melody, the groove actually gets funkier and Bobby starts shredding! Mike changes up the bassline and Justin mixes the synth riff with lots of syncopation and some extremely tasty reharmonization. The melody is super far behind the beat and JT helps with this too by displacing his snare drum hits. The groove picks up again before the main original riff gets played. It’s a little straighter sounding than normal due to Bobby’s Clavinet comping underneath. The B section gets more harmonies thanks to Bob Reynolds and things lead into a very ambient unison section. Mark turns on the auto-wah and Mike too uses his own wah pedal. The drum groove goes half time and Maz takes a lyrical solo with a ton of tritones and diminished lines with the wah trumpet like usual. He gets into some swinging sextuplets and the groove grows immensely. The band continues to play rather than giving Maz some time alone. The intensity continues into the final section where the main riff is less swung than usual. Mike says hello to the crowd and introduces them to the polyrhythmic clapping sequence for Xavi.
Xavi – This version has a very organic sound to it and the mix is super clean. The horns and Zach on violin sound so huge. The B sections in particular are where this is most noticeable as the screeching high C6’s come through loud and clear with Bullock on flute and Zach on violin. Maz and Bob handle the lower octave harmonies with their hugely warm tone. The groove bubbles away until Mark’s solo where the dynamics drop down a little bit and there is a greater focus on the bassline. Bobby changes the bassline up slightly by incorporating a lower fifth rather than the usual sharp 6th interval leading to the flat 7th. It takes a little while for Mike to realize what he was doing but he picks it up eventually. Bobby’s Clav is usually louder in these mixes than on the actual stage. Mark takes a searing solo showcasing his vast virtuosity and tasteful melodies with a buttery tone with some occasionally angular lines. The second solo is super funky thanks to the more syncopated bassline and Mark’s strong chordal riff. Bob takes the solo on Tenor here and the tasteful, melodic trend continues. He incorporates lots of chromaticism and is generally more step-wise in his approach than Mark which contrasts nicely. JT’s groove thickens up massively and Bob starts getting into some tritone heavy motifs. The interlude in the middle of the tune features Marcelo and JT with the audience doing their best with the polyrhythm. Bullock switches to soprano sax for the ‘Flute’ melody and everyone follows accordingly. Bobby, Mark and Justin all add some beautiful volume swelled chords just before Justin takes a rhythmic solo under a very sparse rhythm section on the Rhodes. Mark drops out leaving Bobby and Mike to support him harmonically. Justin builds off the horn melody initially but he quickly moves away with some dissonant lines. The final melody gets a gentle crescendo when it nears the outro. The outro is funky and syncopated like usual, but the melody from Justin and Mark seems tighter than usual. Mason Davis joins Mike on the krakebs. ‘Nicely Done!’ Mike says.
Young Stuff – It’s always nice hearing some old repertoire amongst the newer songs. I’ve noticed whenever Snarky comes to a new place they play a setlist with a wider variety as far as which albums the songs are from. This show has songs from five albums. The larger horn section makes this classic tune extra enjoyable and the special wah mutes the trumpets use stand out a lot more with the extra saxes in the background. The B section gets some fancy new arpeggiated chords from Mark and a Motown-esque groove from JT. Maz takes the solo on trumpet here with lots of chromaticism and the usual pentatonic licks. He leaves lots of space and rhythm section riff in between. Things fade down into almost nothing before the final solo. Mike plays some chords on the bass and Mark adds some lush chords with some subtle whammy bar action. Bobby adds a nice pad-like sustained note on the organ and Marcelo adds some shimmering percussion with a mix of his metallic objects. Bobby takes the solo on the clavinet under a super sparse solo section. Mike drops out and leaves Mark to handle the harmonies. JT and Marcelo hardly play anything. Mike eventually comes in with some very electronic sounding, sub-octave basslines and JT adds in a simple cross-stick groove and the solo section gets its legs. Bobby explores the full range of the clav and gets into some extremely fast lines, but with less overdrive than usual so his notes have more clarity. It picks up very quickly when Bobby breaks out the main feature; the Castlebar. Justin comes in on the Rhodes to thicken the harmonic content as much as possible to support Bobby’s high-intensity playing. A great version of Young Stuff.
Bad Kids to the Back – Another Immigrance song for the Immigrance Tour. This one is fairly fast and has a very solid groove from JT. The bigger horn section is really noticeable here as well and it allows for this version to take on the original studio arrangement by separating the trumpets and saxes. Mark’s funky comping comes through loud and clear in this version. He takes the solo as well for something different. He plays heaps of displaced phrases with some really fast sextuplet lines with a twangy tone. He gets into some 2-3 note chord voicings with lots of palm muting before turning on the auto-wah. His phrasing gets much more chromatic towards the end and he turns on the overdrive as Bobby starts playing sustained chords on the organ beneath him. A nice playful solo. The first time anyone solos on a tune often is always fun to listen to. Zach and Mark harmonize with each other with an envelope filter and some auto-wah in the interlude melody. Things settle right down with a swinging drum solo by JT. He keeps the 2 and 4 feel going for a while but this later turns into some laid back, behind-the-beat playing. Towards the end it becomes a cymbal smashing frenzy once again!
Tio Macaco – Marcelo sets this one off with his percussion rig utilizing lots of his metallic objects, bells and the timbales. He starts it off at a groovy, slow tempo. Bullock is the first to join in like usual with his flute melody. There is finally some sax in this song like the original album recording thanks to Bob. Zach joins in on the violin doubling the same octave as Chris. The middle of the head doesn’t have any harmonic instruments which is normal for this new arrangement of Tio Macaco but different to the album version. Bobby plays the main riff on clavinet and JT intensifies the groove at the trading section. Bob starts off the trading with some tasty major pentatonic licks. He throws in some tritones here and there to spice it up. His phrasing is on point here and leaves a mature amount of space. Chris follows him on the flute continuing with the major sound. He plays with tons of staccato and lots of reverb. Maz is up next and he plays some more minor sounding lines with a very raspy tone. Justin closes the trading with a much mellower and warm sound and he continues the bluesy, minor sound. He throws in some dissonant lines towards the end. Mike plays some chords over the outro melody and things pick right up with a very enthusiastic and polyrhythmic drum/percussion duet from Marcelo and JT. They explore dynamics and textures heavily and they eventually speed up the tempo. This was a really nice extended drum solo from the two of them.
Sleeper – Things go dark for a minute with Maz’s amazing classic tune that is Sleeper. Justin starts this off on Rhodes like usual and he uses lots of modulated delay to create a really washy sound. Bobby joins in with the Mini Moog but he refrains from playing the melody immediately but instead plays some atmospheric and tasteful improvised melodies. When he does play the melody he meddles with the rhythm of it and uses a very delay heavy sound. When the rest of the band comes in, the tempo picks up and JT gets super funky. Justin chooses a super washy and highly resonant synth sound on the prophet. Mike’s synth bass is very prominent and blends very nicely with Justin’s synth. Bobby brings in the organ during the horn and guitar unison melody. Marcelo’s wonderfully complex bongo playing gets a bit of a spotlight in this mix. Bobby takes a virtuosic solo on the Moog in between the two melodies. During the final melody before the quiet solo section, Bobby explores a Mixolydian sound with a long sharp 6th over the C7 chord. Mike introduces the band over Justin’s spooky Rhodes chords; Justin reharmonizes many of the chords too. Bobby continues his solo with some extremely bluesy, and even some C Mixolydian licks over the C natural minor tonality on the Clavinet. He starts shredding pretty early on like usual and gives the song his full energy. He cranks the distortion all the way when he brings the melody back in. He switches to the organ for a little bit after the band returns. Justin uses the washy synth sound like before and Bobby plays some really melodic and memorable lines before tearing through some diminished arpeggios and more chromatic stuff. He turns on the swammy pedal to give him an extra octave to play with. Everyone but JT and Marcelo drops out temporarily and Bobby continues to shred almost continuously. A really high energy performance. Bobby goes Major and Lydian on the last chord and continues soloing for a long time after the band drops out! Really fun. The band comes in once again to finish on the new chord.
Ready Wednesday (Encore) – Roosevelt Collier, an amazing lap/pedal steel guitar player (who was the opening act) joins the pups on stage for this Bill Laurance classic. Bobby starts this one off funky on the clavinet with some wah and overdrive. The audience gets clapping some crotchets before the band comes in. JT’s groove is amazingly funky and it feels like half-time. Justin takes an improvised fill with his Piano keyboard patch; Mike adds some bass harmonics too. Before the solo section and newly arranged melody, there is lots of atmospheric playing going on from the keys and guitar, and JT adds in a simple ride cymbal based groove. Roosevelt Collier has masterful phrasing and really takes his time in this solo. Mike and Mark turn this solo section into a D Dorian tonality for Roosevelt to show off his bluesy chops. Mike adds lots of flat 7ths and chromatic notes which is a drastic change from this piece’s original melodic minor tonality. Roosevelt gets shredding towards the end before the piece becomes more standard tonality and groove wise. The outro is nice and eerie and Justin’s exquisite keyboard playing gets focused. Justin sticks fairly closely to what Bill Laurance would have done if he was present but of course adds his own twists and turns. Bobby adds some very subtle, ambient organ playing as well. Zach adds a nice drone on his violin. JT’s dynamic drumming gets showcased once again.
Overall this was a really special show with lots of experimentation and I definitely recommend purchasing this one if you want to hear something pretty different.
- Bob Reynolds – Tenor Saxophone
- Chris Bullock – Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute
- Mike ‘Maz’ Maher – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
- Justin Stanton – Trumpet, Keyboard, Rhodes, Prophet 6
- Michael League – Bass, Synth Bass, Krakebs
- Mark Lettieri – Guitar
- Zach Brock – Violin
- Bobby Sparks – Organ, Moog, Clavinet, Mellotron
- Marcelo Woloski – Percussion
- Jason ‘JT’ Thomas – Drums
- Roosevelt Collier – Lap Steel Guitar on Ready Wednesday
- Matt Recchia – Engineering and Sound (front of house)
- Michael Harrison – Monitors
- Nic Hard – Mixing
About the Reviewer
Howdy readers. I’m Simon. Since 2016 I’ve slowly become enveloped in the world of Snarky Puppy. My obsession started a few minutes into the first song they played at the Melbourne 2017 show (Flood); my first live Snarky experience. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours listening to their albums, live shows and various interviews/articles with/on the band.
What really stuck with me after seeing them perform live was just how powerful – sonically – a large band can be when everything is orchestrated in such a way, especially with three keyboardists on stage. What also surprised me was just how much fun everyone appeared to be having on stage; I never ever expected so much jamming!
On FunkCity.net, I will primarily be writing reviews of my vast and growing Live Snarky and nugs.net album collection in hopes that my writing will inspire some purchases along the way. All of the money spent on Livesnarky.com or nugs.net will go directly to Snarky Puppy’s members, which will in turn support them while they can continue to do what they do best. And… hopefully fund Family Dinner Volume 3.