Snarky Puppy

Empire Central

The latest from the Texas-based 19-piece jazz-funk orchestra pays homage to the city of Dallas. Recorded live in front of a studio audience, Empire Central was captured over eight days and delivers 16 scintillating tracks. Smooth funk, lush horn arrangements, percussion, odd time signatures, and groovy Minimoog solos permeate.

Empire Central includes expert guitarists Bob Lanzetti, Mark Lettieri, and Chris McQueen. McQueen gets the cherry solo spots on “East Bay,” “Portal,” and “Broken Arrow,” showcasing big ideas as he finesses his instrument with virtuosic passion. Lanzetti and Lettieri deliver contrasting guitar styles as they burn over heavy riffage and the changing time signatures of “RL’s.” Lanzetti utilizes twisted, de-tuned sounds while Lettieri delivers visceral string strangling.

Lettieri also doubles on baritone guitar for the opening track “Keep It on Your Mind,” with its hallucinogenic guitar introduction and heavy-footed groove. There is triple-thick funk guitar, smooth dilla beats like on “Cliroy,” and understated slide that appears mysteriously like a ghost. “Take It!” features ’80s funk pioneer Bernard Wright on Wurlitzer and Prophet, who passed away at 58 shortly after these sessions. In all, Empire Central is a huge, delicious, jazz-rich funky feast. Bring an appetite.

This article originally appeared in VG’s December 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

No posts to display