Snarky Puppy Brings Eclectic Jazz Music to Santa Barbara

Photo by Samuel Yang | The Bottom Line

Vanessa Su

After their Saturday night performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Brooklyn-based band Snarky Puppy stopped by Santa Barbara on Feb. 24 to entertain another enthusiastic, jam-packed crowd at the Granada Theater. Despite having a hectic schedule, the band also stopped by the UCSB campus to bless UCSB’s very own student Jazz Ensemble with a music class.

Wowing the world with their jazz and funk collective music since 2004, Snarky Puppy was formed by leader Michael League and contains about 40 musicians who play a variety of instruments including guitar, bass, percussion, strings, and keyboard, among others. As of recently, they’ve released 12 albums of self-composed music and have won three Grammy Awards for their innovative, brilliant music.

A theater often used for UCSB Arts & Lecture events, the Granada Theater was the perfect stage for Snarky Puppy and allowed the lively crowd to fully enjoy interacting with the band as they played. As the seats were nearly all sold out, the crowd quivered with an energetic hum as everyone awaited the much-anticipated performance before Snarky Puppy entered the stage.

As soon as the lights dimmed, ten members of Snarky Puppy came up on stage. The audience grew excited as they recognized them as Michael League (bass, band leader), Jason “JT” Thomas (drums), Nate Werth (percussion), Shaun Martin (keys), Justin Stanton (keys, trumpet), Michael “Maz” Maher (trumpet), Jay Jennings (trumpet), Chris Bullock (saxophone), Bob Reynolds (saxophone), and Bob Lanzetti (guitar).

Wasting no time, the band immediately launched into a set of new, unreleased music planned as part of their new album, which is set for a Mar. 15 release. Among the new music played were also some of their recent releases such as “Bad Kids to the Back,” which was released on Feb. 22 as a single. The jazz and funk song contains heavy elements of saxophone and bass guitar.

Between songs, Michael League offered mini anecdotes and backstage stories for each song to the audience. Most memorably, he mentioned the filming process of “Bad Kids to the Back,” how it was written by member Justin Stanton, and how it was the band’s first animated music video. To the crowd’s delight, he also comedically highlighted how the animator made the decision to “put Justin in high heels” in the music video.

Towards the end of the show, the band finished their set and walked off stage. The crowd, hungry for more, began to chant for an encore after applauding. Eventually, the band came back and played their hit song “Lingus,” which is a song with an upbeat tempo that relies on electric guitar, trumpets, saxophone, and drums to get the crowd swaying.

Overall, the concert did not disappoint. It not only showcased Snarky Puppy’s amazing performance skills and tracks, but also highlighted the band’s vibrant dynamic as a group. The combination of jazz and funk elements mixed with electrtronic sounds allowed the audience to hear a fresh perspective on classic jazz music, which kept everyone in a captivated trance and revealed a playful, adventurous side of jazz.

Continuing to perform for and amaze people around the world, Snarky Puppy’s next tour stop is in Osaka, Japan in Club Quattro on Apr. 11. Their newest album “Immigrance,” which all of their fans are eagerly awaiting, is scheduled to be released on Mar. 15.

Author’s Recommended Song: Xavi