Snarky Puppy sharpens an even finer melodic focus on the dense yet nimble Immigrance | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Snarky Puppy sharpens an even finer melodic focus on the dense yet nimble Immigrance

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Merging elements of funk, jazz fusion, rock, international music, and jam-band fare—plus undeniable groove and melody—Snarky Puppy has emerged as an eminent name in crossover jazz. Formed in 2003 and led by bassist Michael League, the large-scale ensemble is on the road this spring in support of its 12th album, the new Immigrance (GroundUp Music). A sprawling studio production full of trumpet, sax, synths, flutes, strings, electric organ and piano, and funky rock instrumentation, it displays just as much eclecticism and proficiency as any of its predecessors, but this time the band takes a more direct approach, curtailing some of its impulses toward intricacy. Opener “Chonks” features six minutes of warbling, overdriven keyboard- and horn-stoked funk before closing out with a filthy rock groove. Similarly, “Bigly Strictness” radically shifts from dense, straightforward funk rock (the track includes more than ten types of percussion instruments from around the world) into a spacey, spiraling keyboard run. “Xavi,” the first single and longest track, epitomizes the band’s more traditional jazz-jam collision, channeling Mahavishnu Orchestra as much as Medeski Martin & Wood. Immigrance is a dense, nimble album of compelling melodies and masterful performances—and throughout 2019, Snarky Puppy will release bonus tracks from its recording sessions.   v

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