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Snarky Puppy - Family Dinner Volume Two / relix review

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For the second volume in their guest-singer-led Family Dinner series, Snarky Puppy picked New Orleans as the setting. The inescapable musical atmosphere clearlyseeps into the recording-done as usual in front of a live "studio" audien -though not so much in the more obvious ways. (They do get their second line on with Nigel Hall on bonus track "Brother, I'm Hungry.") In addition to being the birthplace of jazz, which is ostensibly the root of what Snarky does, the Gulf port also served as the entryway for Afro-Cuban influence. As such, claves and Spanish language lyrics abound, mixed in with the soulful R&B that typified the previous edition of Family Dinner, and Vol. 2 features probably their highest profile guest so far, David Crosby. The result makes for an inconsistent, though overall pleasing, mix of styles. While their previous album, the Grammy-winning Sylva, allowed for greater uniformity via the collaboration with Metropole Orkest, the guests here force the Texas-bred big band further out of their comfort zone, frequently to the benefit of the music. Jeff Coffin and KNOWER bring a playful energy to the funky "I Remember," and the band makes plenty of room for Charlie Hunter on the Susana Baca-led "Molino Molero." But it's the aforementioned Crosby feature, "Somebody Home," where the band shows an uncommon restraint that concludes the album-proper on a sensitive note.