With every new project–hell, with every show they play–Snarky Puppy hopes to do something they’ve never done before. With their new album, Family Dinner, Volume 2, the eclectic, unclassifiable jazz/funk/global collective has set their sights higher than ever.
“We had a wish list of artists we wanted to collaborate with, from a really wide array of styles,” says bassist/guitarist/composer/arranger Michael League. “We tried to come up with different demographics, nationalities, even age groups. And then we wanted to write arrangements that the band would really shine on, but would also truly enhance the essence of each artist.”
The result is a free-wheeling, wide-ranging collection, recorded live in New Orleans, featuring an astonishing list of musicians from around the world, including Susana Baca, Charlie Hunter, Salif Keita, Laura Mvula, David Crosby, and an all-star group of Big Easy players including Ivan Neville and Terence Blanchard. Various combinations of the three-dozen members of Snarky Puppy (known as “The Fam”) act as the house band for an unprecedented journey through different sounds, genres, and cultures.
Bob Lanzetti is a professional guitarist living in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in New Jersey where he had the opportunity to study with guitar greats such as Chris Buono, David Fiuczynski, and Vic Juris. In 2000 Bob moved to Denton, TX to study jazz guitar at the acclaimed University of North Texas. In addition to working towards his degree Bob had the opportunity to perform and record with many of the great artists in the musically rich Dallas/Ft. Worth area such as Bernard Wright, Bobby Sparks, Robert “Sput” Searight, and Shaun Martin. He is also an original member of the 2014 Grammy winning jazz/funk/world music group Snarky Puppy, whom he tours and records with extensively. In 2006 Bob relocated to Brooklyn, NY to be apart of the thriving music community found there. Since then he has played on countless recording sessions and performed with artists in genres ranging from pop to free-jazz and everything in between. Bob can be heard on Snarky Puppy’s “The Only Constant,” “The World is Getting Smaller,” “Bring Us the Bright”, “Tell Your Friends,” “Ground Up,” “Snarky Puppy’s Family Dinner Vol. 1,″ and “We Like It Here”. Other notable recordings include Hildegunn Gjedrem’s “Share Your Secret,” Underground System Afrobeat’s “B.O.B EP,” and The Silver Arrows “Arpeggionassis.”
Chris McQueen has been playing, writing, and recording music since 1994. He plays guitar in the Grammy winning instrumental band Snarky Puppy, as well as the weirder, grittier instrumental quartet Forq, the indie rock band Foe Destroyer, and a new West African-inspired band Bokanté. He’s also accidentally done several rock musicals over the last eight years featuring his actual person on stage in costume, sometimes even running around in heels. The most recent of these was David Bowie’s Lazarus at New York Theatre Workshop; others include The Rocky Horror Show (Dallas Theater Center), Fly By Night (Playwrights Horizons & DTC), and The Who’s Tommy (DTC). He recently made an iPhone app called Guitar Note Atlas that is a nice way for guitarists to quickly see how to finger things on the fretboard, and also for non-guitarists to study scales and modes.
Chris grew up in Austin, TX. He started playing guitar and recording songs at home on a 4-track Tascam around age 10. A few years later he joined RedHeaded Stepchild, a kid band that played western swing, and learned a ton from guitar prodigy Will Knaak. Later he got into jazz and went to the University of North Texas to study with Fred Hamilton. He eventually played in the One O’Clock Lab Band and wrote a piece that we recorded for Lab 2006. He stayed in the Dallas area for a few years after college and learned some of the most important things about music from the (still strong) R&B, jazz, Gospel scene, particularly from legendary keyboardist Bernard Wright. Along with singer/songwriter Adrian Hulet he co-led the epic rock band Oso Closo. After two albums and a DVD, Oso Closo broke up and clumsily reformed into Foe Destroyer, which features singer/songwriters Daniel Garcia and Cade Sadler.
“The Coronado has a fantastic, punchy-yet-full sound. I love the ability to link the two channels together, which is so reminiscent of the old Airline amps and gives you tons of gain and flexibility. There’s plenty of headroom to get a great clean sound, but it also breaks up into a super-thick overdrive when you crank it.”
Mark Lettieri is a guitarist, composer and producer based in Fort Worth, TX. Proficient in a multitude of styles, he records and performs in virtually every genre of popular music with both independent and major-label artists. He also composes and produces original instrumental music under his own name. Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, Lettieri came to Texas via Texas Christian University (TCU), studying advertising and public relations, and competing in track and field. A passionate guitarist since middle school, he began his music career in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area upon graduating from TCU. Playing in the vibrant Metroplex gospel and R&B scene led Lettieri to join jazz/world group Snarky Puppy in 2008. The now two-time GRAMMY Award-winning band tours and records constantly, having performed on all continents except Antarctica.
Aside from Snarky Puppy, Lettieri has spent time on the road with neo-soul icon Erykah Badu, gospel singer/actress Tamela Mann, and American Idol: Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips. He’s also performed with a myriad of other artists, including Anthony Evans, Chrisette Michele, Myron Butler, N’dambi, Bilal, and even Pat Boone. An in-demand session guitarist, recent work includes David Crosby, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Adam Levine, Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Lalah Hathaway, Eric Roberson, Lecrae, Lupe Fiasco, Keyshia Cole, Xzibit, as well as numerous radio and television jingles. Lettieri is also a member of Team SKP, a production collective led by GRAMMY Award-winning producer Symbolyc One (Kanye West, Beyonce). Since 2010, he has been a member of the house band for the Marcus & Joni Show, a morning talk/variety show broadcast in 200 countries on Daystar, a Christian cable network.
As a composer/bandleader, Lettieri has released three albums, Knows in 2011, Futurefun in 2013, and most recently, Spark and Echo in 2016 (Ropeadope Records). Through tours with Snarky Puppy and social media network shares, these records have created a sizable buzz among fans of instrumental music worldwide. He performs frequently in a trio setting featuring a revolving rhythm section of world-class Dallas musicians, and has begun touring this music in the U.S. and Europe.
Michael League is a Grammy Award-winning bassist, guitarist, composer, arranger, producer, label owner, and bandleader based out of Brooklyn, New York. As a child of a military family, he was born in southern California and grew up in both Alabama and northern Virginia. Michael attended the University of North Texas’ jazz studies program for 4 years, then moved to nearby Dallas for another 3 years, where he worked with some of the most influential figures in modern gospel, R&B, and soul music, and was mentored by legendary keyboardist Bernard Wright (Miles Davis, Chaka Khan). Performing, recording, and production credits include mainstream artists such as Salif Keita, David Crosby, Kirk Franklin, Bobby McFerrin, Susana Baca, Lalah Hathaway, Israel Houghton, Marvin Sapp, Walter Hawkins, Donnie McClurkin, Laura Mvula, Patti Austin, Lucy Woodward, DJ Logic, and Musiq Soulchild, as well as jazz artists like Chris Potter, Wayne Krantz, Ari Hoenig, Adam Rogers, Lionel Loueke, Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Eric Harland’s Voyager band, Charlie Hunter, John Ellis, and Ambrose Akinmusire, among others.
Michael runs the Grammy Award-winning instrumental music ensemble Snarky Puppy, whose grass-roots approach to the changing music industry has met major critical and commercial success. Their albums reached #1 on the ITUNES Jazz and #5 on the Billboard Jazz charts in 2013 and 2014, and their collaboration with Lalah Hathaway on the Family Dinner – Volume One DVD resulted in a Grammy for “Best R&B Performance” in 2014. Michael’s efforts as a bandleader and bassist earned him an interview in the Random House release “The New Face of Jazz” alongside the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Sonny Rollins, as well as the cover spot on the August 2014 issue of Bass Player Magazine, the largest bass publication in the world. After years of horn and string arranging for dozens of studio albums, Michael stepped into the world of full-blown orchestral arranging in 2014 with an hour-long suite of music entitled Sylva, written specifically for the multi-Grammy-winning Metropole Orchestra and Snarky Puppy.
Now in Brooklyn, Michael has his hands in dozens of pots. He spends the majority of his time producing and arranging for an eclectic blend of artists on both independent and major labels. In early 2012, he launched his own imprint, GroundUP Music, under Ropeadope Records. Michael is passionately committed to music education and outreach, having given clinics at over 150 schools throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, Pacific, and Europe. He also works closely with several non-profit organizations in the United States and holds open-ended artist-in-residence positions at various educational institutions around the world.