Funk-infused Texans, Snarky Puppy, are defining the new wave of jazz. Snarky Puppy’s leader, Michael League, was interviewed and written about in the 2010 book release “The New Face of Jazz: An intimate look at today’s living legends and the artists of tomorrow” by Cicily Janus. The author cites League’s self-termed music as “jafunkadansion” for its genre-bending qualities of instrumental and dance music. Cicily Janus also comments the “group Snarky Puppy is one of the most inventive in sound and funk since Maynard Ferguson’s fusion years.” We chatted with Michael before Snarky Puppy’s show tonight at the 529.
What’s the first gig you ever attended?
I was 5, and it was Little Feat (now one of my favorite bands) with George Thorogood opening. I was pretty ignorant then… all I wanted to hear was “Bad to the Bone,” and as soon as George finished it, I feel asleep. Didn’t hear a note of Little Feat. What was I thinking?
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed?
I would say that the most memorable gig Snarky Puppy has ever had was last month in London. We played a 450-capacity venue that was completely sold out, with one of the most enthusiastic crowds I’ve ever seen. It was insane. I remember feeling like the building might collapse because of how much the audience was moving. It was our first non-North-American gig, so I think it had a lot of symbolism to it as well.
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
Tough one. I’ve seen some incredible concerts. I have to say that the most influential ones were these regular Monday night trio gigs I used to go see in Dallas- it was the great Bernard Wright (Miles Davis, Chaka Khan) on keyboards, Wes Stephenson on bass (from the Funky Knuckles), and John Carruth on drums. They would play tunes we all knew, but were so explorative in the way they played, and so tastefully improvisational… it was like watching a school of fish swim together. It changed the way I thought about music. I’ll never lose what I gained from those Monday nights.
Gig you would most like to play?
My top five gig choices would be, in no order, Radiohead, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, and D’Angelo. I love great songs, and playing with great singers.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
Trumpet: Louis Armstrong
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
Bass: James Jamerson
Drums: Jason “JT” Thomas
I would be the bass tech.
Catch Snarky Puppy Today May 10th at 529