Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at 'Sylva,' a live collaboration between jazz fusion group Snarky Puppy with the Dutch Metropole Orkest.
Week of 06/05/2015
WHO: Snarky Puppy and Metropole Orkest
Snarky Puppy, one of the more notable jazz fusion ensembles in the game at the moment, already blends the genre with plenty of rock and punk, so the only way to go on its major label debut (Impulse, under the Universal Music umbrella) Sylva is even wider. The easiest way to do that is to perform a live release with the Metropole Orkest, a Dutch orchestra built with interchangeable rhythm sections—one for jazz music and one for more mainstream fare. The latter group has recorded with many big acts across its 70 years, with Basement Jaxx, Laura Mvula and Within Temptation being the biggest names in recent years.
The only trouble, it would seem, is getting all 60 musicians in the same room for a live disc.
Sylva doesn't sell itself as a concert spectacular, although the crowd shows its appreciation when given the opportunity across the 50 minutes of music on the album. The Orkest keeps its sound remarkably small, perhaps realizing that Snarky Puppy would be the big name on the billing (a reflection of the orchestra's flexibility, necessary considering its wide range of clients).
The two sides can go lengthy periods of time off of one track, up to 15 minutes for both "The Curtain" and the first part of "The Clearing," but less patient listeners (people less inclined toward instrumental music) will find most satisfaction in "Atchafalaya," a funky bit of New Orleans-style big band (although Puppy hails from Brooklyn), which allows bassist Michael League to demonstrate why he's the de facto/official leader in this group.