Snarky Puppy, Ulster Hall, Belfast

Coming in out of the cold on this wet and stormy night, it is a surprise to find that the support is being provided by none other than the ground breaking seven-string guitar wizard Charlie Hunter. He’s with vocalist Lucy Woodward and Keita Ogawa on …

Published: 13 Nov 2019. Updated: 2 years.

Coming in out of the cold on this wet and stormy night, it is a surprise to find that the support is being provided by none other than the ground breaking seven-string guitar wizard Charlie Hunter. He’s with vocalist Lucy Woodward and Keita Ogawa on drums, giving us a lively set from a new album Music Music Music. Don’t look for the bass player. There isn’t one. It’s all Charlie.

Now here come the Snarkies, all ten of them. They’re heading towards the end of a seven-month international tour and they seem determined to make this night a special one, since it’s their first time in Belfast. And what a sound. Much of the material is from their outstanding new album Immigrance – their 13th. They’re no longer the new kids on the block but there’s no loss of the high energy, invention and brilliant playing that shot them to stardom. Among the soloists, trumpeter Mike Maher, Justin Stanton on trumpet and keyboards, Bob Reynolds on tenor and Jason Thomas on drums shine.

It’s a night for ‘heads’. I can see several well-known players in the crowd. At one point bassist and bandleader Michael League asks if there are any musicians in the house. Almost everybody shouts ‘yes!’ Photo: Viquipèdia.

Keith Baker

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Pigfoot, Shuffle, Pokey

From August 2019. A studio affair recorded in 2017 not a patch on 21st Century Trad, the line-up has changed a bit and as with Sons of Kemet I miss the presence of Oren Marshall even if reedist James Allsopp, doubling baritone saxophone and bass …

Published: 13 Nov 2019. Updated: 2 years.

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From August 2019. A studio affair recorded in 2017 not a patch on 21st Century Trad, the line-up has changed a bit and as with Sons of Kemet I miss the presence of Oren Marshall even if reedist James Allsopp, doubling baritone saxophone and bass clarinet (pity that his name is misspelt in the liner caption) now a fixture in Pigfoot, is a fine player and he certainly is excelling particularly on ‘Black Dog’. The change means that the texture of the band is different but not massively so.

The quartet look on their material through a wide angled lens in terms of repertoire spanning popular song (the Bacharach selections), opera (‘Dance of the Seven Veils’) and rock (the cheesy ‘Heartbreak Hotel’) plus a taste of soul (Curtis Mayfield) and more.

The results are a party mix and on some tracks depending on whether you like the tune or not you can switch off more so than on the much more amusing and anarchic live predecessor. Perhaps the live environment on a recording actually suits the band better than the studio, I can’t quite put my finger on why it lacks something. Saving grace? Yes: ‘Black Dog’ rocks, Clarvis putting the boot in big time and Liam Noble is zanier than ever on that track while Chris Batchelor goes berserk in a riot of momentum.

Stephen Graham

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