Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Snarky Puppy bandmates offer an affable album of duets

Snarky Puppy bandmates Michael League (left) and Bill Laurance (right).
Txus Garcia
ACT Music
Snarky Puppy bandmates Michael League (left) and Bill Laurance (right).

The new duets album Where You Wish You Were from Snarky Puppy bandmates Bill Laurance and Michael League doesn't sound anything like that heavily rhythmic big band. To that group's fans, though, the different sound here isn't at all surprising.

While Snarky Puppy leans on funky, hip hop beats, they're a band who've always found influences from music from around the world. Those global sounds are at the heart of Where You Wish You Were as Laurance matches his acoustic piano with League playing multiple stringed instruments from electric guitar to oud and West African lute.

The tonal possibilities of the varied instrumentation bring an Eastern sensibility, but there's also the undefinable modernity of Snarky Puppy's celebrated instrumental pop. Up-tempo numbers like "Round House" and slower songs like "Sant Esteve" are equally hypnotic and ruminative, finding subtle grooves without percussion.

There are no horn sections or multiple drummers or string sections to hide behind for Laurance and League, and their compositions take full advantage of the spare setting. Notes are allowed to resonate, and the intimacy creates a collaborative patience between the musicians.

There's a calm to Where You Wish You Were. The album title's unnamed place must be peaceful, full of beauty and free of worry. As it was recorded at League's home just outside Barcelona, Spain during the pandemic, these two were certainly making the most of the situation.

Michael League and Bill Laurance both have projects of their own, along with other collaborations and of course Snarky Puppy. Where You Wish You Were marks a special moment for the pair and will have listeners wishing it's only the first of many.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

Stay Connected
Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.