All That Jazz: Snarky Puppy

by Dara Klatt

Photo by Rosanna Freedman

Rejuvenating is how Michael League, bandleader of the three-time Grammy Award-winning jazz and funk collective Snarky Puppy, describes the kick start of summer concerts and music festivals. And Washington, D.C. specifically, he says, “has a very strong scene, a very specific sound, and because it doesn’t have the hype and attention of a city like New York, it’s able to retain its identity and evolve in a more organic way.” While based in the midst of that Big Apple hype now, the part Virginia-raised multi-instrumentalist reflects on the area saying, “I’ve loved it since I was a high school kid drinking club soda at Twins Jazz shows in the early 2000s.

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” Playing a setlist from the band’s new album “Immigrance” at DC JazzFest this summer, League describes the creative spark he gets from his 19-member band, and from his global travels, which included a six-week stint in Istanbul studying Turkish and Kurdish instruments. Remarkably, the worldwide recognition the band is receiving now hasn’t hazed League’s memory of his early mentors.

“The biggest influence came from my guitar teacher at the Contemporary Music Center, Dan Leonard. He opened up so many doors for me in terms of learning both the guitar and music beyond my instrument.

” To Mr. Leonard out in Chantilly, thank you, from all of us.

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For more DC JazzFest coverage, read our exclusive interview with musician and late-night bandleader, Jon Batiste, one of the spotlight performers of the celebration. 

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