Most of the music-savvy folks out there already know the name of Snarky Puppy. The band has pretty much become a benchmark in terms of jazz bands and they truly deserve the exposure. The individual level of proficiency that the members demonstrates can certainly account for that. All of their albums are recorded and filmed live, and the band director and composer, Michael League shows-off his genius on every occasion. This song, I’ll Do Me, is a blues tune. It’s not the usual style that Snarky usually performs in, they’re more of the big band type of register. But this whole album is more than just Snarky Puppy. Family Dinner volume 1 showcases talent from the MusicLab at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, VA. and plays arrangements of one of each guest’s songs; the result is phenomenal. Back to this song however. The tune was written by a 12 year old girl named Jayna Brown and boy can she sing. She belts it like she has had a lifetime of experience at singing blues. Gabriel Morales, a 15 year-old guitar student, also from the Jefferson Center, joins her and takes a solo that is all blues and taste. It is truly amazing to see two young musicians playing alongside others twice their age, and show an equal level of musicianship. It is also reassuring and comforts the idea that not all talented young musicians set themselves on a path to become the next Bieber or Cyrus and grow up to get in fights with paparazzis or do drugs on stage. But this is another battle.
The whole concept for this DVD stays true to the vibe Snarky usually sets for their live recordings and even brings it forward. The live setup usually consists of the 20+ piece-band playing in a circle around a reduced crowd of 25 (or so) people. This time the band is set on a stage, and the crowd is scattered around it and sat on living room sofas and comfy cushioned chairs. Half of this record was shot and recorded on the one evening. On the second evening, around 800 people were invited to attend the performance, recording, and video shoot session. The vibe that seeps out is that of a cosy evening at a local jazz bar, minus the gin & tonic. And the picture matches the quality of the music, it captures the atmosphere perfectly and complements it with slow pans and occasional close-ups of players pulling faces that evoke groove and concentration.
Definitely a band to check out if you haven’t already, and this encompasses the entirety of their music. They touch upon all styles of grooves and melodies, and have just enough jazz to get the undivided attention of most musicians without losing that of non-players who aren’t generally attracted to that type of music.