There are many genres that are popular in today’s music scene. From hip hop to country, most music on today’s charts have a very normal appeal to them and have been a continuation from the genres’ earliest stages. Two genres that has not really been explored in music today is jazz and funk. Even though these two genres are very different from each other, the commonality lies in the fact that most of the younger generation today view them as an “old” person’s genres. However, there is band that has been pushing for the popularization of both these genres in today’s music. Going by the band name Tank and the Bangas, this group is bringing the a new fusion genre of New Orleans Jazz and Funk music back into today’s music scene.
Tank and the Bangas is a New Orleans Jazz inspired band from the city itself. The members include lead vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball, keyboard player Merrell Burkett, drummer Joshua Johnson, Bass and synth player Norman Spence, background vocalist Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, flutist Albert Allenback and Johnathon Johnson on bass. All the members met at a local lounge bar during it’s open mic night and after exchanging information made the group. Formed in the year 2011, the band worked hard to produce music that touched home to their New Orleans’ roots. Starting off mostly with a jazz and spoken word feel, the band later started exploring how to make it more modernized. The modernized version of this type of genre was made by mixing in elements from funk, hip hop and soul. Making an almost jazz fusion with all these elements gave them the unique sound that the could continue to build throughout their career.
Career So Far
The band first started performing small gigs at local New Orleans cafes with mostly covers and some original works. As they continued to progress, they made there way into performing at small jazz festivals and even getting there own set as openers for other jazz musicians. During this time, the began to work on their first album “ThinkTank”, which was later released in 2013. Moving on to 2017, the group got to perform on NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which grossed over 11 million views. This lead them to be recognized later with a award from the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest and brought in many more fans. Since then, they continued producing singles and even came out with an album titled “Green Balloon” in 2019. They were invited to perform on Jimmy Fallon within this same year.
The first noticeable influence of Tank of the Bangas is the jazz inspiration. Their band consists of most of the key elements of jazz music, such as a bass, piano, and a wind instruments such as saxophone and trumpets. The band itself says that since they are all from New Orleans, it was only natural that jazz would play a big role in the music they create. Specifically the front woman, Tank, was also a spoken word artist before the band was created and used jazz to help elevate her performances. Another influence seen in the band’s music is funk. One of the appeal of Tank and the Bangas music is the almost childlike and fun expression through the music, which is most brought out with the added element of funk. In songs like “Walmart” and “Rhythm of Life,” the classic beats used in funk songs are found. There is also some influence of funk outside the music and within the performance of the songs. The costuming choices and even the facial expressions in these performances showcase the freedom that we can also see in performances of funk. Lastly, the band’s music is heavenly influenced by the spoken word element of their lead singer. Most songs have a small piece of spoken word written by Tank and have been incorporated into the shows they perform. It often gives their shows a more laid back feel that makes the overall experience really inviting.
As a still very new group, that is also still trying to get their name out there, they just recently started getting recognized for their work. In 2019, the band won the 2017 NPR Tiny desk Concert Contest for their song Quick. The next biggest achievement was a nomination for the 2020 Grammys for Best New Artist.
Tank and the Bangas are truly bringing back the genres of Jazz and Funk, while also completely making them new. With amazing performances, vocals, and instrumentation, there is not many artists doing it like them these days. I am excited to see what is in the future for this band and see them going very far.
My Favorite Performances
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