After over a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all five of the band’s Grammy® awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016,2017, 2021, and 2023), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of the New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.”
Snarky Puppy is a collective of sorts with as many as 20 members in regular rotation. At its core, the band represents the convergence of both black and white American music culture with various accents from around the world. Japan, Argentina, Canada and the United Kingdom all have representation in the group’s membership. But more than the cultural diversity of the individual players, the defining characteristic of Snarky Puppy’s music is the joy of performing together in the perpetual push to grow creatively.