Snarky Puppy

Being named Best Jazz Act at this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards was just another addition to Snarky Puppy's already impressive résumé. Led by bassist/composer Michael League, this eclectic collective has successfully transcended the highbrow, elitist tag that dogs some jazz combos. And the act manages to do so without succumbing to the banalities of contemporary jazz of the Kenny G variety—an impressive feat.

Bring Us the Bright, the band's third effort, continues Snarky Puppy's fascinating merge of brains, brawn and bravado. While certainly capable of mind-blowing instrumentation, League and his extended posse (the group sometimes swells to 16 members) blend in just the right amount of funk, blues and rock into songs that pulse with a vitality that's damn near tactile.

On cuts such as "Strawman" and "Celebrity," the expansive lineup creates moods and themes that wouldn't be out of place on a mid-'70s set from Frank Zappa. Add in a healthy dose of Parliament Funkadelic-style dance grooves and Snarky Puppy boldly goes where (very) few jazz bands have gone before. This puppy has grown into one badass, funky dog.

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