Snarky Puppy Makes Triumphant Studio Return On ‘Culcha Vulcha’ [Review/Stream]

first_imgSnarky Puppy has announced their return with thunderous authority, unleashing a brand new studio album Culcha Vulcha for the first time in eight years on April 29. In the interim period, the band, (who this writer found at an early Bear Creek festival side-stage) has pretty much set the bar for what is possible when an enormous crew of progressive minded virtuosos set about a mission with collective focus. The seven, full-length live albums released over the last five years point to a prolific genius, among the most versatile bands in the universe. This is a group that cannot help but create dope, invigorating music; a regenerative process that has them back at the drawing board the moment they complete a record or tour. Originally connecting at the jazz program on the fertile grounds of the University of North Texas at Denton, the band stayed true to their hustle by recording Culcha Vulcha in their home state, at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX. The de-facto captain of this mammoth sea monster is bassist and principle composer Michael League, yet each of the other sixteen soldiers in the Snarky army brings a specific style and important contribution to the pup-gumbo. Their incredible vision and pristine execution has been rewarded by a rabid, steadily-growing touring following; and no less than two Grammy Award wins over the past two years. Their core sonic thesis is to attack and massage a multifaceted rhythm or groove, and then take it for a roller-coaster joyride through the minds, hearts and souls of a plethora of horn players, guitarists, percussionists and keyboardists, eventually arriving at a tremendous slab of nu-jazz, steeped in tradition yet channeling glories found deep inside new beginnings. Snarky Puppy has knack for tastefully introducing worldly traditions and authentic styles to their tunes. The journey begins at “Tarova,” finding the band in the Far East rhythmically, their ample percussion egging on some Deep Southern fireworks; we end up somewhere near Washington DC. Brazilian aromas power “Semente,” head-honcho League’s bass lines negotiating the well, far beyond twenty-thousand namesakes. Later, during the rambunctious “Grown Folks”, the brass heads and boogie grooves holler out to a new French Quarter with an intoxicating Second Line head, while the band cooks furiously amidst polyrhythms and sizzling melodies.  Subtle, tasteful electronic soundscapes and an undeniable boom-bap feel inform “Beep Box.” The slow’d & throw’d composition embraces a futuristic ethos dripping in Cory Henry’s kaleidoscope synths, while the colors paint a dark, if mesmerizing canvas. This song is a controlled and focused intention, not unlike the Analog Future Band, but with more jazz feels, sacrificing zero thump. The sparse, vibey groundwork beneath Chris Bullock’s tasty flute licks create a foundation for a yet-unclaimed nation. There’s a clear nod toward beloved afrobeat on “The Simple Life”, yet there’s an aesthetic that reminds one of Fat Mama’s debut record Mammatus, this life the future that Sir Joe Russo and company were hinting at nearly twenty years ago.  “Big Ugly” invokes Groove Collective in their heyday, albeit with more jazz chops and a clearly contemporary fabric. This mammoth song is an emotionally fitting album coda, as so many styles, instrumental voices. vivid colors, and brilliant ideas are on display; delivered to the audience with a panache and seriousness that belies their age. The choice tone in the way the trap kit is mic’d lends a vintage aura to a composition geared toward the next era of progressive music, and the bright future of this simply awesome conglomerate.Snarky Puppy is an ironclad unified theory, collection of virtuosos who’ve come together as one; traversing this dozen-year mission determined and packing authenticity, the avant garde, and incomparable heat. The music world has been served notice once again, and Snarky Puppy sets the bar the possibilities of what uncompromising art is in 2016. Listen to Culcha Vulcha below, courtesy of NPR First Listen, until its April 29th release:last_img read more

SMC senior honored for community service

first_imgSaint Mary’s senior Lizzy Pugh tutors children, serves as a teacher’s assistant at a local primary center and writes letters to grade school students through the College’s pen pal program. But Pugh, a religious studies and German double major, does not clock these service hours to further her major. Rather, she got involved in service to get to know the greater community. “I wanted to know South Bend,” Pugh said. “Service is not only an excellent way to know South Bend, but also to know not only the triumphs, but the tribulations the community faces. You get to get in there and be with them in solidarity, face those things and help them overcome them.”As a result of her efforts, Pugh won the “Patricia Arch Green Award for Outstanding Contribution to the College Academy of Tutoring Program.” The Office for Civil and Social Engagement (OCSE) gave the award as part of National Volunteer Week, which ran from April 19 to April 23. Green, for whom the award is dedicated, graduated from the College in 1961 and spent her life doing service. In 2008, Green’s husband established this award, which goes to a student in the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) program who has done “exemplary” volunteer work. Colleagues of Pugh say she is one of these people. “[Pugh] is an example of service and dedication to others,” CAT program director Olivia Critchlow said in a press release. “She leads in a very gentle way that is far beyond her years and is a very compassionate listener to everyone she encounters. She is an asset to the College, but even more importantly, an asset to our community.”Pugh has clocked over 475 hours of service during her time at Saint Mary’s. At Warren Primary Center, Pugh works with children with learning disabilities, such as Attention Deficit Disorder and dyslexia. She said seeing a child transform from a student who cannot stand reading into one who gets excited about it is one of the most fulfilling experiences.“They would rather be dragged through the mud on a rainy, cold day than read a book,” Pugh said. “So, my favorite thing is, even just in a few weeks, they run up to you and say, ‘Can you read with me today?’ They are just so excited about reading.”Pugh said she remembers one girl in particular who struggled with reading for a very long time because she was coping with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.“She was reading [a chapter book], when the year before I had to pull teeth to get her to read a book,” Pugh said. “[It] was really a testament to the work of not only myself, but also the other young women who worked in those classrooms, as well as the teachers.”After graduation, Pugh said she hopes to continue service work, whether in the classroom or aiding women and children. In addition to her work in the local schools, Pugh has also been involved in campus ministry and OCSE events and planning. No matter where life takes her, volunteer work will always play a role, she said. “I know I want to work with kids and faith, or even just service,” Pugh said. “Service is just such a part of my life and I can’t imagine it any other way.”last_img read more

The New Matilda Cast Gets the Squigs Treatment

first_imgAbout the Artist: With a desire to celebrate the magic of live theater and those who create it, and with a deep reverence for such touchstones as the work of Al Hirschfeld and the wall at Sardi’s, Squigs is happy and grateful to be among those carrying on the traditions where theater and caricature meet. He was born and raised in Oregon, lived in Los Angeles for quite a long time and now calls New York City his home. Matilda Related Shows View Commentscenter_img Squigs has gone a little bit naughty! The Broadway company of Matilda welcomed a host of new names not too long ago, including Allison Case as Miss Honey, Natalie Venetia Belcon as Mrs. Phelps and Rick Holmes and Amy Spanger as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, respectively. Broadway.com resident artist Justin “Squigs” Robertson caught a recent performance, and commemorated the new cast members—along with Chris Sieber as the terrifying Miss Trunchbull—with this portrait. Take a look above, then check them (and a host of extraordinarily talented maggots) out at the Shubert Theatre! Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 1, 2017last_img read more

Cambodian study hints at subclinical H5N1 cases

first_imgJan 25, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – A recent study in Cambodia suggests that some human cases of infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus escape detection because symptoms are mild or absent, according to a report from an international avian flu conference this week in Bangkok.The meeting drew about 500 experts from 40 countries to discuss research and ideas on a wide range of topics. Some other topics discussed included the idea of stockpiling vaccine adjuvants to prepare for a pandemic, the use of engineered human antibodies as a defense against the H5N1 virus, and the high H5N1 case-fatality rate in Indonesia.Cambodian studyThe Cambodian researchers tested 674 people in two villages who were exposed to the virus and found that seven of them, all between the ages of 4 and 18, had antibodies signaling previous infection, according to a Jan 24 Bloomberg News report.The finding contrasts with previous serologic studies of people in areas affected by H5N1 outbreaks. A review published Jan 16 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) said the few serologic studies since 2003 of people with potential exposure to H5N1 suggest that asymptomatic or mild cases are rare. The studies involved people living with backyard poultry, workers in live-bird markets, and healthcare workers.More cases of mild disease might suggest that the virus is improving its ability to spread among humans, while becoming less virulent. Based on the current global count of 353 cases with 221 deaths, the case-fatality rate is almost 63%.The Cambodian researchers, led by Sirenda Vong of the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, conducted their study in early 2006, according to the Bloomberg story. The researchers asked villagers about their exposure to poultry and tested their blood for antibodies to H5N1.The median age of the seven people who had antibodies was 12 years, compared with 27 years for those who had no antibodies, the story said.Vong and colleagues had conducted a similar study of 351 Cambodian villagers in 2005 and found that none had antibodies to the virus. The study was published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2006.Malik Peiris, a microbiology professor at the University of Hong Kong, told Bloomberg that the latest study supports findings from the 1997 H5N1 outbreak in Hong Kong, in which human cases were first reported. The virus infected 18 people, 6 of whom died. Peiris said children were less severely affected than adults and had a better survival rate, Bloomberg reported.”Most of the children diagnosed in Hong Kong in 1997 had a very mild course of infection; they basically had a mild flu-like illness and they recovered,” Peiris was quoted as saying. “I don’t think there is any evidence to say the situation has changed.”The recent NEJM review said H5N1 infections involving febrile upper respiratory illnesses without pneumonia in children have been reported more often since 2005, but early antiviral treatment may account for this.Stockpiling of adjuvantsAnother topic raised at the meeting was the idea of separately stockpiling adjuvants, immune-boosting chemicals that enable vaccine producers to reduce the dose of antigen in a vaccine without reducing immune response. Global health officials, including those at the World Health Organization (WHO), hope this dose-sparing approach could dramatically increase the world supply of pandemic vaccine.Albert Osterhaus, a virologist at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands who spoke at the conference on Jan 23, said stockpiling adjuvants would be useful if the pandemic strain turned out to be a subtype other than H5N1, according to a Jan 23 Reuters report.”There’s a lot of discussion to vaccinate people against H5N1 with adjuvanted vaccines,” Osterhaus said. “We might do that, but it’s very expensive and it might well be that the pandemic outbreak may not be caused by H5N1 but by H7, H9, or H2 [viruses].”Osterhaus said adjuvants should be stockpiled separately from antigens, Reuters reported. “Adjuvants can be stockpiled and H5 antigen as well,” he said. “So if the pandemic is going to be H5N1, you just mix them and you get a vaccine. If not, you rapidly produce the antigen and add it together with the adjuvant.”Currently, the United States has no licensed influenza vaccines that contain adjuvants, according to a previous CIDRAP News report. However, a few studies of influenza vaccines with alum-based adjuvants have shown acceptable protection levels. In August, researchers working on a GlaxoSmithKline vaccine reported positive results for a split-virus vaccine combined with a proprietary oil-and-water adjuvant. A month later, Sanofi Pasteur reported promising results for its inactivated vaccine paired with its own adjuvant.Using engineered antibodiesIn other developments, a researcher from Crucell, a Dutch biotechnology company, reported at the conference today that engineered human monoclonal antibodies to the H5N1 virus protected mice from several strains of the virus, according to a Reuters report.Crucell created the human antibodies by mixing antibody fragments taken from nine blood donors with antigens from two H5N1 strains found in Vietnam and Indonesia, Reuters reported.Mark Throsby, project director for antibody discovery at Crucell, told the conference that in vitro studies showed that one line of the engineered antibodies neutralized several strains of the H5N1 virus, including strains isolated in Hong Kong in 1997, Indonesia in 2005, and Vietnam in 2003, Reuters reported.In the animal studies, he said, researchers injected the engineered antibodies into mice that had been given normally lethal doses of H5N1 virus 3 days earlier. “We were able to protect all the animals,” Throsby was quoted as saying. “It reduced their disease and they became well again.”Drug resistance in Indonesia?Yesterday Menno de Jong, a virologist at an Oxford University clinical research unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, spoke on the topic of drug failure in the treatment of patients who have H5N1 infections. The case-fatality rate for the disease in Indonesia is especially high—82%, compared with about 63% overall, based on WHO figures.De Jong told the conference that researchers are conducting studies to see if H5N1 patients in places like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam require higher doses of antiviral medications, Reuters reported yesterday.”It could be they are treated later, or the virus is different, more virulent,” de Jong told a Reuters reporter. “There are many maybes, including differences in the susceptibility of the virus.”He told Reuters that the H5N1 viruses in Indonesia appear less susceptible to osteltamivir, the antiviral recommended as first-line treatment for H5N1 infections. “It’s not a resistant virus, it’s just that a bit more drug [may be] needed to inhibit these [H5N1] clade 2 viruses,” he said.De Jong was a member of the WHO expert panel that wrote the recent review in the NEJM on human H5N1 cases. In line with de Jong’s observations at the Bangkok meeting, that article said clade 1 viruses appear to be 15 to 30 times more susceptible to oseltamivir than clade 2 viruses from Turkey and Indonesia. However, the panel wrote that the clinical relevance of this difference in oseltamivir susceptibility “remains to be determined.”See also: Jan 16 CIDRAP News story on NEJM review of human H5N1 cases: “Exposure source unclear in 25% of H5N1 cases”Sep 7, 2006, CIDRAP News story “Cambodian study suggests mild H5N1 cases are rare”Oct 30, 2007, CIDRAP News story “The Pandemic Vaccine Puzzle, part 4: The promise and problems of adjuvants”last_img read more