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The Triumphant Emptiness of Snarky Puppy / PopMatters

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If you don't know Snarky Puppy, then you're in a shrinking minority. Formed in Texas 12 years ago by exceptional young musicians largely pulled from the famous University of North Texas jazz program, the band is a collective that is orchestrated by bassist Michael League. Today they are based in New York and have won their first Grammy, but they are marked as much by how they have achieved success-and how hard they have hustled along the way-as by the music. Coming out of music school in the early ‘00s clearly posed challenges. The record industry had essentially collapsed and having a degree from UNT might get you gigs, but it wasn't going to propel anyone into an easy life. Maybe not even a musical life. Snarky Puppy, from the start, took a different path, defying both genre conventions and business conventions.

Now Snarky Puppy is emerging more clearly into the mainstream with the release of Family Dinner Volume Two, which is both on their own label (GroundUp) and distributed through Universal Music. Like its predecessor, it features a series of guests, particularly singers across the musical spectrum, who are given a funky new setting in a Puppy arrangement, all recorded live before a small audience.