Personnel: Chris McQueen, Mark Lettieri, Bob Lanzetti (electric guitar); Seija Teeuwen, Herman Van Haaren, Polina Cekov, Arlia de Ruiter, Vera Laporeva, Ruben Margarita, Dennis Koenders, Tinka Regter, David Peijnenborgh, Wim Kok, Marijn Rombout, Pauline Terlouw, Casper Donker, Pauline Koning, Feyona van Iersel, Merel Jonker, Ewa Zbyszynska, Christina Knoll (violin); Isabella Petersen, Mieke Honingh, Norman Jansen, Iris Schut, Julia Jowett, Lex Luijnenburg (viola); Annie Tangberg, Jascha Albracht, Maarten Jansen, Emile Visser, Charles Watt (cello); Mari‰l Van Den Bos, Nola Exel, Janine Abbas (flute); Leo Van Oostrom, Paul van der Feen, Leo Janssen, Max Boeree, Werner Janssen (clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, saxophone); Chris Bullock (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Jay Jennings, Mike Maher (trumpet, flugelhorn); Justin Stanton (trumpet, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Clavinet, Moog synthesizer); Jan Oosting, Jan Bastiani, Vincent Veneman (trombone); Martin van den Berg (bass trombone); Ries Schellekens (tuba); Pieter Hunfeld, Fons Verspaandonk , Elizabeth Hunfeld, Rob Van De Laar (horns); Bill Laurance (piano, Wurlitzer organ, Moog synthesizer); Cory Henry (Clavinet, organ, Moog synthesizer); Tjerk DeVos, Eric Winkelmann, Arend Liefkes (double bass); Michael League (electric bass); Robert "Sput" Searight (drums); Nate Werth, Frank Warndenier, Murk Jiskoot (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Eric Hartman.
Recording information: Het Energiehuis, Dordrecht, Netherlands (04/19/2014-04/20/2014).
Directors: Michael League; Andy Laviolette.
Arrangers: Jules Buckley; Michael League.
Brooklyn's Snarky Puppy jazz-funk collective have become one of modern music's bright lights. Sylva, their debut for Impulse, is their fifth live album and eighth overall. It is unlike anything else in their catalog thus far, yet it embodies all the things they do so well: R&B, fusion, NOLA second line, soul-jazz, and more. It is a concert collaboration with Utrecht's Metropole Orkest; a single work comprised of two suites. The first four tracks make up the first, while the last two comprise the second. Sylva realizes composer/bassist Michael League's dream for Snarky Puppy: to work on a cinematic, orchestral scale without resorting to a watered-down "with strings" exercise. Their trademark edges -- in arrangement, improvisation, and groove quotient -- all remain intact. Fans may experience initial hesitation during the opening strains of the set's overture "Sintra." It contains repetitive, moody strings and winds before the band's horns enter on a Latin tinge and rhythms follow suit. The Metropole's horns join and it all starts to swirl, ending on the fat crescendo that introduces the slinky jazz-funk of "Flight." It features more familiar traits, with spidery synth and Rhodes, vamping guitars, and layers of staggered percussion and B-3 as its engine. "Atchafalaya" sounds exactly like its title: swampy, sweaty NOLA horn funk with stinging electric guitars and popping stacks of percussion as its hallmarks. "The Curtain" is over 15 minutes long. It employs intimate post-bop, symphonic rock, big-band funk, dancefloor stomp, cosmic fusion, and classical elegance. Sylva's closer is the nearly 20-minute "The Clearing." Debussy-ian impressionism may introduce it, but lithe, shimmering R&B, swinging, fat-horned progressive big band (think Clarke-Boland), greasy, blackbone-slipping alley funk, trancey Miles-esque fusion, and Wardell Quezergue-styled NOLA horn grooves wind out of it. This sprawler ratchets down before rebuilding toward a swaggering climax with brass, guitars, bass, drums, and B-3 all on stun. Sylva may not be the dance party face of Snarky Puppy, but there is one within it. League writes not only tor the strengths in his band, but also those of the Metropole Orkest -- they are not only able to "hang" with Snarky Puppy, they push them -- hard. Many acts have attempted collaborative exercises like this, but few -- if any -- have pulled them off. Musical sophistication meets the gritty danger of live performance; execution matches ambition with crackling energy and soulful expression. ~ Thom Jurek
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