Snarky Puppy: Empire Central

Editor's Choice

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details


Bobby Sparks (ky)
Zach Brock (vn)
Jason ‘JT’ Thomas (d)
Keita Ogawa (perc, d)
Jamison Ross (d)
Larnell Lewis (d)
Shaun Martin (ky)
Bill Laurance (ky)
Mike ‘Maz’ Maher (t)
Mark Lettieri (g)
Michael League (el b)
Jay Jennings (t)
Justin Stanton (ky, t)
Bob Lanzetti (el g)
Marcelo Woloski (perc, d)
Bob Reynolds (ts)
Nate Werth (perc)
Chris McQueen (g)
Chris Bullock (ts, f, cl)




Media Format:

2 CD, DL

Catalogue Number:



Rec. March 2022

By digging into their earliest influences, is the Texas-born, New York-raised fusion collective chasing its tail? Maybe not; an album that clocks in at over an hour and a half shows there’s plenty of life in the old(er) dog yet [that's enough puppy puns! – Ed]

But what does that notoriously shapeshifting Snarky soundworld sound like here? It’s a funkier, heavier, and noticeably slower-paced collection, as the group remembers their roots in Denton, Texas on this jazz-funk odyssey. It loses some of the scorched earth intensity of Snarky at their very best, but there’s a welcome return of the atmospheric, half-live recording so perfectly pitched on We Like It Here and the Family Dinner volumes, that recent studio albums missed.

Through the whining strains of ‘Keep It On Your Mind’, ‘East Bay’s rhythmic games and memorable hooks, the slinky beats of ‘Cliroy’ and ‘RL’'s grungy bedrock, all the ingredients are there for a return to form. With 12 musicians contributing 16 tracks, there’s a feeling of each composer writing for their idea of Snarky, an interesting experiment that doesn’t end up bringing too much new, but instead consolidates, tightens and polishes their impressive band sound.

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