In the last couple of years, the music of Michael League, his band Snarky Puppy, and the music of the musicians involved with the record label he founded – Ground Up Music, have come to the forefront of my attention due to the work they have been doing in the modern jazz scene.
In 2014, Snarky Puppy released what I consider to be their best record to date in the form of We Like it Here, pianist Bill Laurance released his fantastic debut record, Flint, world music/jazz fusion group Banda Magda released the brilliant Yerakina, and jazz quartet FORQ released their self titled album.
2015 was another great year for this ever expanding family of musicians. Snarky Puppy and the Metropole Orkest brought out a sprawling, magnificent project called Sylva
(an album that came in at #9 on my Top 30 Albums of 2015
list), Bill Laurence released his second record, Swift
, FORQ released their second record, Batch.
Also released, a brilliant percussion duo record from Ghost Note entitled Fortified,
and Shaun Martin – another of Snarky Puppy’s pianists – released his incredible debut album, Seven Summers
(which made it to #8 on my list).
Needless to say, the group has put out a lot of excellent material, which makes me even more excited for their jam-packed 2016. Snarky Puppy are releasing the second installment of theirFamily Dinner
series on the 12th of February (with guests including: Jeff Coffin, Jacob Collier, Laura Mvula and others), an album for which they released the first song, ‘I Asked’ by@beccastevensband
On the 4th of March, Bill Laurence is releasing his third album, Aftersun.
I love Bill Laurance’s work, particularly on his first record, so this album is up there with my most anticipated of the year.
Banda Magda is also releasing a new record this year. Tigre was crowdfunded on Pledge Music in aid of the World Wildlife Fund. This project is being released on the 25th of March.
Additional albums are also due to be released this year, including a new record from Maz, the band of Snarky Puppy trumpeter, Mike ‘Maz’ Maher, and a new Snarky Puppy record of original music, that was recorded towards the end of 2015. The new record is rumoured to be calledEmpire Central.
It is clear from their past output and the slate of upcoming content, that Michael League and friends are on a creative winning streak that shows no sign whatsoever of slowing down.