20 Grand – a dynamic group from Whitefish, calling themselves “your friendly neighborhood funk band” – has poured 10 years of powder-keg stylings into a stew of hip-hop, R&B and jazz, and their new album continues this trend.
Starting as a five-piece instrumental outfit back when, the group has since expanded their membership along with their songwriting ability. They infuse nifty melodies with torrential lyrics and killer vocals, courtesy of lead singer/saxophonist Kendra Timm.
The monster line-up also includes founding members Jamie Simpson, guitar; Vincent Rannazzisi, drums; and Rebecca Nelson, tenor sax and flute. Others are Eric Gates, baritone sax and keys; Zac Fawcett, trumpet, flugelhorn, sitar and keys; Toby Ferguson, percussion; Eric Kanter, rap-style vocals; and Matt Seymour, bass. Everyone but Seymour adds vocals too.
Timm, Kanter, and Fawcett composed many of the pieces, and Seymour wrote “Gingerwulf.” The whole band gets in on the action with ideas, but they say listing everyone’s influences would take too long. “We only got time for the funk.” Ha!
“Gingerwulf” is about a crime-fighting pack of wolves. It has an orchestral, film-like sound, with lots of cymbals and cool chords. Kanter’s howls top it off. I like it!
The title song, “Not My Work,” is jazzy and light, with whimsical flute setting up the feel. Timm politely disses another woman who spreads gossip about her, and refuses to be dragged into the dirt. Her supple voice bends nonchalantly around the lyrics. Kanter adds some rap, and the ensemble lays down a relaxing vibe.
Bass thunks and sizzlin’ horns rock “Funk Penitentiary.” The Warden (drummer Rannazzisi) doesn’t let Timm party after the show because he makes her help tear down the PA, so she’s in jail. She and Kanter have conversational back-and-forth vocals while drums moon-walk around them. Fun!
There’s loads of talent here. Check them out!
– Mariss McTucker