GUP LIFE, the vibrant and subversive debut of progressive jazz quartet SNOW NERDS, comes onto the Los Angeles improvised music scene with attitude, ernest, and no shortage of absurdist humor. With devilish hooks, hard-hitting instrumental performances, and thought-provoking composition, this record is a breath of fresh air to those who seek an alternative to the desire-to-impress that so often plague the world of academic music.
At the heart of Snow Nerds is the musical history of saxophonist Ted Taforo and guitarist Jake Sucher. The pair have been writing music and performing together since their first days as students at CalArts. In 2015 Sucher and Taforo joined forces with the explosive rhythm section of bassist Anna Butterss and drummer Jesse Quebbeman-Turley. As individuals the band members are emerging staples of LA music, with Butterss appearing with Dick Oates, Bob Mintzer, and Jeff Parker, Quebbeman-Turley with Bill Frisell, and Taforo getting performance and writing credits on Spoon’s newest album Hot Thoughts. Each composition on Gup Life harnesses these individual voices in a way that dawns the possibility of a new positive energy in motion.
"From the short chuckling burst of ‘Skylanders' to the steady meditation of 'Felix Found A Tire,' Sucher’s compositions display thoughtful intent and mindfulness towards the bigger picture. Great attention is paid to varying song length and form, which defiantly energizes the album, subverting expectation at every corner. The fragile 'Real Life Reprise' is the most notable example, decaying from a single verse into delicate noise-making, sustaining interest and potential for its duration. 'Gup Life' is incredibly vibrant and grooving clocking in at only two minutes. In that time the combo joyfully incorporates a soundbite of famous Australian TV veterinarian Dr. Harry Cooper. “
—Ben Levinson, Gup Life liner notes
As a complete package, Gup Life has a story to tell. Striking artwork by Vanessa Lilak, package design by Eron Rauch, recording and mixing work of Greg Hartunian, Ben Levinson’s insightful liner notes, as well as recurring themes in the lyric and track titles shape a record that is reflective, complex, and just plain fun. At times the narrative also dips into the political. Do Your Job, inspired by a protest chant, evokes the hair-raising inertia of a mass of people pulling together. Taforo’s composition How I Felt About What The Delta Smelt Got Dealt honestly and explicitly addresses the effects of California’s mega-drought on a threatened indigenous species of fish. With this release Snow Nerds sets out to connect dots, pull people in, and leave them with something to think about.