By: Ellen Sherman, KCOU Live Events Director
September 17, 2014: The lights were dimmed low and a steady tune played on the keyboard as the crowd anxiously awaited the 7 other band members to join in on the jazz piece the keyboardist had initiated. Two minutes later, the group came to form the Grammy award winning “Snarky Puppy” octet.
The band took no time diving into their set; beginning with two pieces from their older albums, featuring Christopher Bullock on the tenor saxophone. Fellow brass players Mike Maher, on the trumpet and keyboard, and Justin Stanton, also on trumpet, complemented Bullock to create that big band sound. The brass section remained strong throughout the set, only settling down for a couple of the smoother pieces in the middle of the performance.
Their songs featured many different genres; moving from upbeat Middle Eastern vibes to slow and contemporary jazz, on to a sublime dub-reggae genre. Their flexibility as a group was astounding; it was obvious that each musician was a master of their trade. The two percussionists, Robert Searight II and Mr. Nate Werth, tag-teamed the hip-hop and jazzy beats using a variety of cowbells, handheld’s, bongo’s and traditional drums. Each took their own solo and an extra one which they shared together near the end of the set.
This percussion explosion led to Mark Lettieri, electric guitar extraordinaire, performing a steller solo for the end of the Snarky Puppy set. The bit began with just him and his guitar – the audience craved this sound due to the a cappella nature of the song. To follow his solo the band finished on an upbeat contemporary jazz piece from their newest album, We Like it Here. The encore was inevitable after this show stopping performance.
The band didn’t have an issue keeping the crowds attention; the entire Columbia audience was on their feet by the time Snarky Puppy arrived on stage. If there is one thing I learned from attending Snarky Puppy it is that Columbia loves good jazz music – which was exactly what they got, and more.
Here’s a taste of their live show:
Ellen is the Live Events director for KCOU and a senior Strategic Communications major from Blue Springs, MO (we can just call that Kansas City – makes things easier.) She likes mexican food, cinnamon rolls, and the occasional Dexter episode. Her dream is to one day plan and promote concerts for a living, although she’s accepted the fact that she’ll probably end up as a hand model.