After over a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all five of the band’s Grammy® awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016, 2017, 2021, and 2023), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of the New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.”
Snarky Puppy is a collective of sorts with as many as 20 members in regular rotation. At its core, the band represents the convergence of both black and white American music culture with various accents from around the world. The defining characteristic of Snarky Puppy’s music is the joy of performing together in the perpetual push to grow creatively. Always evolving in its musical output, each new record brings a new vision and progressive direction, “Snarky Puppy has always been a band that prioritizes the sound of music, our rule is that it can’t sound like it sounded before” comments League, he continues, “the music has to feel like it’s moving somewhere”
And moving somewhere it most definitely has. The Empire Central World Tour, which started in the USA in April 2022, has taken the band to 30 US States and 33 countries around the world. It’s incredible, although not at all surprising, how far Snarky Puppy have come since ten friends got together at the University of North Texas in 2004. It also raises the question – where will Snarky Puppy go next? For Snarky Puppy fans, the answer to this question is a very exciting prospect.