Mark Lettieri Trio (USA)
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 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 unique melding of melodic hooks, groove, 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 themes and anchor points. Each instrument has an equal role to play in the larger matrix, and the chemistry of these three musicians is world-class.