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Snarky Puppy is a Brooklyn-based Instrumental music ensemble [1] led by bassist Michael League. Snarky Puppy combines a variety of jazz idioms, rock, world music, and funk and has won three Grammy Awards.[2] Although the band has worked with vocalists, League described Snarky Puppy as "a pop band that improvises a lot, without vocals".[3] Usually appearing with nine to twelve members for live performances, Snarky Puppy's two most recent albums, Culcha Vulcha and Immigrance, were recorded using nineteen members.

Snarky Puppy
Snarky Puppy@51. Heineken Jazzaldia (30052040612).jpg
Snarky Puppy performing at Heineken Jazzaldia in 2016
Background information
OriginDenton, Texas, U.S.
GenresInstrumental music ensemble
Years active2004–present
Associated acts



The band was formed by Michael League in Denton, Texas, in 2004, “Because I was so bad,” he recalled, “I didn’t place into any of the school ensembles. So Snarky Puppy was my way of getting to play.”[4] The group comprises "...a wide-ranging assemblage of musicians known affectionately as 'The Fam'...";[1] about 40 players have performed in "The Fam" on guitar, bass, keyboards, woodwinds, brass, strings, drums, and percussion. Many past and present band members were students at the University of North Texas.[5] Members have performed with Erykah Badu, Marcus Miller, Justin Timberlake, Stanley Clarke, Kirk Franklin, Ari Hoenig, Roy Hargrove, David Crosby, and Snoop Dogg. While touring, the band has given clinics, workshops, and master classes in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Snarky Puppy released the debut album Live at Uncommon Ground in 2005. The band's first four albums were released independently, after which Tell Your Friends, groundUP, Family Dinner – Volume One, and We Like It Here were released by Ropeadope.

The album We Like It Here was performed and recorded live in October 2013 at the artistic compound Kytopia in Utrecht, Netherlands.[6] It was released in February 2014, debuting at number one on the iTunes Jazz Charts.

On January 26, 2014, Snarky Puppy and vocalist Lalah Hathaway won a Grammy Award in the Best R&B Performance category for their rendition of the Brenda Russell song "Something" from Family Dinner – Volume 1.[2]

Sylva (2015), a collaboration with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra for Impulse! Records, debuted on multiple Billboard charts, including number one on the Heatseekers Chart, number one Top Current Jazz Album, and number one Contemporary Jazz Album.[7] The album won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album,[8]

After winning their second Grammy, the group was signed to Universal Music Group's Universal Music Classics label. Their second release on the label, Culcha Vulcha (2016) earned the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album,[9] their third Grammy award.

Four members are in the band Bokanté and four were in Banda Magda; both bands record for Snarky Puppy's groundUPmusic label. Former members Cory Henry and Robert Searight won Grammy Awards for work outside Snarky Puppy while they were in the group.

In 2016, Justin Stanton and Mark Lettieri of Snarky Puppy contributed to Indonesian singer Eva Celia's debut album And So It Begins.[10]

On Friday 15 March 2019, Snarky Puppy released their thirteenth album, Immigrance.[11] [12] As part of the album campaign, the band released a series of short interviews over social media, providing what Michael League described as: 'a small peek into the lives and perspectives of musicians who have moved from their native country to a new one.'[13] Participants in the interview series include drummer Antonio Sanchez, saxophonist Will Vinson, producer and engineer Fabrice Dupont, radio host and journalist Caroline Fontanieu, vocalist Eleni Arapoglou, musician Jorge Glem, harmonica player Grégoire Maret, guitarist and vocalist Leni Stern, singer and composer Alina Engibaryan, musician and filmmaker Simon C.F. Yu and singer/multi-instrumentalist Magda Giannikou.[14]

On Friday 26th April, the band released the first bonus track from Immigrance.[15] Entitled Embossed, it was written by pianist and keys player Bill Laurance, who described it as, 'a reaction to the social, political and environmental anxiety of the times.'[16]

Awards and honorsEdit

  • 2014 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance, "Something"
  • 2014 Best Contemporary Group, Jazztimes Readers' Poll
  • 2014 Best New Artist, Jazztimes Readers' Poll
  • 2015 Best Contemporary Group, Jazztimes Critics' Poll
  • 2015 Jazz Group of the Year, DownBeat Readers' Poll
  • 2016 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, Sylva
  • 2016 Best Contemporary Group, Jazztimes Readers' Poll
  • 2017 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, Culcha Vulcha
  • 2017 Best Contemporary Group, Jazztimes Readers' Poll
  • 2017 Jazz Group of the Year, DownBeat Readers' Poll


Band membersEdit

Snarky Puppy is sometimes referred to as a "collective." The band's current roster boasts about 25 members, and well over 40 musicians have performed with the group over the years and through the group's 13 albums. Michael League explains that, in the early days of the original 10-piece band, if someone got an opportunity to earn more money than for the band's gig, "...we'd get a substitute and if the substitute played well, then it felt like, 'Well, they learned the music and played great, what a waste for them to learn all that that for one gig...' so we would kind of just keep them in the Rolodex, so to speak, and rotate them in and out. Then it became a thing where we started touring so much that guys couldn't do all the dates, or didn't want to, or whatever." When people came in, the differences in their playing would influence all those on the date. "That would change the way that they played the music. And then even when that new person left, that memory of that new relationship with the music would remain. So really we just kept building on the personalities of the new people that would come in, brick by brick. general, the guys understand what the band is– a rotating cast... But I don't really think of Snarky Puppy as a collective. It's just a large band and sometimes people aren't there. It doesn't feel like a revolving door, it doesn't feel anonymous at all. The guys who have played gigs with us the least have still played several hundred gigs. That's more than most people play with their own bands. So it's very much a tight, familial unit. Everyone feels very, very close and very essential, also." [17]

Membership on the Immigrance album (2019)[18][19]

  • Michael League – bass guitar, oud, percussion
  • Jay Jennings – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Mike Maher – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Chris Bullock – tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute, bansuri, percussion
  • Bob Reynolds – tenor saxophone
  • Zach Brock – violin
  • Bill Laurance – piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboards, synthesizers
  • Shaun Martin – Minimoog, clavinet, keyboards
  • Bobby Sparks – Hammond B3 organ, clavinet, Minimoog, keyboards
  • Justin Stanton – Fender Rhodes, Prophet 6, keyboards, trumpet
  • Bob Lanzetti – guitars
  • Mark Lettieri – guitars
  • Chris McQueen – guitars
  • Larnell Lewis – drums
  • Jamison Ross – drums
  • Jason Thomas – drums
  • Keita Ogawa – percussion
  • Nate Werth – percussion
  • Marcelo Woloski – percussion


  1. ^ a b "Snarky Puppy Biography by Matt Collar". AllMusic, member of the RhythmOne group. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "The Making of Lalah Hathaway and Snarky Puppy's "Something"". March 3, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  3. ^ Woodard, Josef (December 2015). "Thinking Person's Feel Good Music". Down Beat. Elmhurst, Illinois: Maher.
  4. ^ "Snarky Puppy: A House Built on Solid Funk". NYTimes. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Snarky Puppy | Denton". 2013-10-29. Archived from the original on 2013-10-18. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  6. ^ [1] Archived June 8, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Jazz Articles: Snarky Puppy Reaches #1 on Multiple Billboard Charts with Sylva". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  8. ^ "2016 Grammy Awards: Complete list of winners and nominees". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  9. ^ "Grammy Awards 2017: Complete Nominees and Winners List". American Media. February 13, 2017. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Arrizal, Decky (November 17, 2016). "'And So It Begins,' Album Penuh Cinta dari Eva Celia" (in Indonesian). Rolling Stone Indonesia. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  11. ^ "Snarky Puppy Immigrance - Google Search". Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  12. ^ "Snarky Puppy". Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  13. ^ "Snarky Puppy". Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  14. ^ "Snarky Puppy". Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  15. ^ "Snarky Puppy Shares 'Embossed' Single". JamBase. 2019-04-26. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  16. ^ "Snarky Puppy". Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  17. ^ "Michael League: Snarky Puppy's Jazz-Schooled, Grassroots Visionary". All About Jazz. December 10, 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  18. ^ "The last four years have brought dramatic changes for Snarky Puppy". groundup music. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Immigrance liner notes" (PDF). groundup music. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2019.

External linksEdit