Of all the encouraging trends of the so-called up-and-comers of the next generation of jazz, the one I find the most heartening is the revival of the group concept. Mainstream Jazz has never been exactly rife with acts that don’t carry the name of the leader or a few prominent players. But some of the most abiding collaborations have been just that–true group efforts: Return to Forever, The Jazztet, Weather Report, and, more recently, The Bad Plus and Happy Apple.
If the group concept these days has a shared mission, it seems to be a focus on fusion, funk or progressive leanings. With Snarky Puppy, all three apply, along with a hodge-podge of other leanings. The impetus behind Family Dinner is elegantly simple. It’s a gathering of choice friends from nearly every musical cranny. Salif Keita, Bela Fleck sideman and leader Jeff Coffin, singer Susana Baca, eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter, and even David Crosby are all honored guests.
And it’d be tough to beat the snarling grooves and charged rhythms of the host band. With a full media package of a bonus DVD that offers plenty of insight, Snarky Puppy is poised for a takeover.