Groove, rock, and funk from the Mark Lettieri Trio, led by the guitarist of three-time GRAMMY winners Snarky Puppy, and New Orleans punk-jazz vibraphone virtuoso Mike Dillon and his band.
MARK LETTIERI TRIO
The Mark Lettieri Trio is an instrumental jazz-rock-fusion ensemble led by three-time GRAMMY Award-winning guitarist and composer, Mark Lettieri. Notable for being a longtime member of jazz super-group Snarky Puppy, Lettieri formed his trio as a live outlet for his guitar-based material that spans his three albums.
Lettieri’s most recent release, Spark and Echo (2016, Ropeadope Records), is the latest continuation of Lettieri’s evolution as an artist. Following 2011’s Knows and 2013’s Futurefun EP, the compositions on Spark and Echo display his eclectic melding of genres, tones, and virtuosic technique with cinematic charge. The album reached #2 on iTunes’ Jazz Chart, and #11 on Billboard’s Jazz Albums Chart, thanks to rapidly growing international recognition among fans of instrumental guitar music, coupled with his vibrant social media presence.
Serving as Spark and Echo’s core rhythm section – and rounding out Lettieri’s live trio — are two stalwarts of Dallas, Texas’ jazz and groove scene: drummer Jason “JT” Thomas and bassist Wes Stephenson. Thomas, a fellow Snarky Puppy player, is a veteran session drummer whose résumé includes Marcus Miller, D’Angelo, and as a member of Roy Hargrove’s legendary RH Factor band. Stephenson, a respected composer in his own right, is the leader of the fusion group the Funky Knuckles, signed to Snarky Puppy’s GroundUP record label.
When the trio hits the stage, Lettieri’s songs take on an intended deeper dimension. With Thomas and Stephenson providing the rock solid groove, and Lettieri the melodic and harmonic navigator, the band pushes and pulls upon each other with ebullient elasticity and extended improvisation. Yet they always remain honed in on the music’s solid hooks and compositional anchor points. Each instrument has an equal role to play in the larger matrix, and the chemistry of these three musicians is world-class.
«Mark Lettieri, though a young cat, is of a dying breed, a gent whose playing is difficult to pigeonhole, though it shows antecedents in the less known work of some great players...cats like Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour, also session men and soloists whose least lauded work is their best. Those guys can fuse rock, jazz, and prog like no one's business when they've a mind to, but Lettieri does so with even greater freedom and fluidity.”
— M.S. Tucker, FAME Reviews
»Anyone who hasn't heard of Texas-based guitarist Mark Lettieri will wonder why upon listening to his debut CD, Knows. A seasoned and versatile session player, Lettieri grew up in California listening to the wide range of iconic bands that emerged from the state during the 1970s, from Steely Dan to Van Halen. Now based in the same Dallas/Fort Worth area that produced Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the guitarist fuses all of those influences and beyond into his own unique synthesis.”
— Bill Meredith, Abstract Logix
“It's a trio-quartet setting and a platform for Lettieri's good sense and interesting written launching pads. It’s beyond cliche and it shows you what he's got, which is some chops but a musical mind that works in ways that make the music worth hearing. It's not technically astute fireworks in the end. It's music. Here's a cat that's got something really nice going!”
— Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog
“You can pick out a lot of influences on this guitar man’s second jazz rocker but what it all comes down to is someone getting his Zappa on. Playing from the heart, this isn't rip off, tribute or homage, it’s just a cat that wants to shut up and play his guitar before it wants to kill your momma.”
— Chris Spector, Midwest Record
Mike Dillon Band
How many artists have been praised a “punk rock provocateur,” “jazz vibraphone visionary,” and “percussion virtuoso” in the same sentence? There’s only one: Mike Dillon. Whether through his affiliation with artists like Les Claypool, Primus, Rickie Lee Jones, and Ani Difranco, and collaborations such as Nolatet, Garage a Trois, The Dead Kenny G's, Critters Buggin or bands he has led, including Mike Dillon Band, Mike Dillon's New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium, Billy Goat and Hairy Apes BMX, the Texas-native has set his own standard for 25 years now.
Over the past decade, Mike Dillon has released a number of acclaimed albums, intertwining a range of influences from Zappa-esque eccentricity to Fishbone punk funk, D.C. Go-Go to Milt Jackson-influenced vibraphone majesty. Never before, however, has he recorded music so personal and committed to a sustained mood as his latest album, Functioning Broke. The recording finds Dillon solo on vibraphone and various percussion, building each track into its own minimalist, but multi-dimensional auditory landscape.
The current version of the Mike Dillon Band features guitarist Cliff Hines, Bassist Nathan Lambertson and a rotating cast of drummers including Claude Coleman Jr. (Ween), Simon Lott, G. Maxwell, Doug Belote and Paul Thibodeaux. With this line up, Dillon has continued exploring the connection between New Orleans street beats, Ska, funk, Hardcore and jazz. The band will release a new record in February 2017 titled, “Life is not a Football." Produced in New Orleans by Richard Maloney and Dillon with engineers Rick Nelson and Robert Mercurio, this album sounds like a Spotted Cat trad band that grew up playing Dead Kennedys and invited Captain Beefheart over for a dinner cooked by Thelonious Monk. The Mike Dillon Band has supported acts like Galactic, The Revivalists, Clutch, Primus, and Fishbone, while continuing to play music festivals and in cities across the U.S.
In 2016, the Gambit's Big Easy Awards named Mike Dillon «Performer of the Year» and the Mike Dillon Band «Best Punk/Metal Band» in New Orleans. Living in New Orleans for over 10 years now, when not on the road with Rickie Lee Jones, Nolatet, or the Mike Dillon Band, Mike resides in the Musician's Village.
Mike's latest release, Life Is Not A Football, released April, 2017 (Royal Potato Family) is «A recording with the Big Easy coursing through its veins and equal parts Frank Zappa and The Butthole Surfers in its DNA. Life Is Not A Football, is a no-holds-barred affair, complete with rallying cries for justice, truth-to-power political and existential rants and plenty of inside jokes.
»The breadth and sheer number of different voices Mike Dillon has at his command is impressive in just about any setting. On his new solo recording, inspired largely by the music of Elliott Smith, it’s downright staggering"
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
«As idiosyncratic as Mike Dillon's work has been with Critters Buggin' and Garage a Trois, it's well-nigh impossible not to fall under the spell of the music he creates all by himself on Functioning Broke.»
«Leave it to an unpredictable percussion wizard to pay tribute to a swinging mid-century tiki lounge musician and one of the saddest of the sad and sensitive singer-songwriters at the same time»
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
«Dillon is the rare musician who can take tropes from any number of disparate musical worlds-metal and brazillian samba school for example-mash them together and create something truly fresh and new.»