The Funky Knuckles — Delicious (Nov. 1, 2019)
• Funky Knuckles patří do nové generace improvizujících hudebníků, kteří zpochybňují omezení žánru, ale nikdy neztrácejí z dohledu groove. Toto není vaše typická funková kapela ... nebo jam band ... nebo jazz band. Funky Knuckles jsou něco úplně jiného. Toto je improvizovaná hudba nové generace, patřičně neustále se měnící již v průběhu hry. V posledních letech si stát Texas získal pověst líhně improvizované hudby zaměřené na groove a Funky Knuckles jsou součástí tohoto hnutí již více, než deset let. Je běžné, že slyšíme hudebníky světové třídy, kteří sedí v jejich týdenním pobytu v Dallasu, a členové kapely mohou být považováni za sidemany pro Janet Jackson, Stanley Clarkem a Larry Carltonem. Funky Knuckles vydávají své čtvrté album „Delicious“ v listopadu 2019 na Ropeadope a po jeho vydání cestují na domácím turné.
• The Funky Knuckles is a world~class jazz orchestra made up of genetically~enhanced cybernetic supermen. Their mind~blowing rhythms and harmonic complexity will shatter your fragile psyche and leave you drowning in a pool of fresh llama milk.
• The Funky Knuckles belong to a new generation of improvising musicians, challenging the constraints of genre, but never losing sight of the groove. This is not your typical funk band... or jam band... or jazz band. The Funky Knuckles are something different entirely. This is the improvised music of the new generation, and it is continuously being re~defined, even as it is performed. In recent years, Texas has gained a reputation as a hotbed for groove~oriented improvised music, and The Funky Knuckles have been a part of that movement for over a decade. It is a common occurrence to hear world~class musicians sitting in at their weekly residency in Dallas, and band members can be seen as sidemen with Janet Jackson, Stanley Clarke, and Larry Carlton. The Funky Knuckles are releasing their fourth album, “Delicious” in November 2019 on Ropeadope, and will be touring domestically around the release. ⇓♠♣♥♦⇑◊
Location: Dallas, Texas
Album release: November 1, 2019
Record Label: Ropeadope (Groove Attack)
01. Llamas of the Sea 6:11
02. Blue 5:09
03. Nothing Compares to This 0:47
04. Tooth 8:22
05. Megaboss 9:10
06. Knuckaround 1:10
07. Stormcrow 7:13
08. Life Minor 8:22
09. Jar of Shadows 1:00
10. Digital Compromise 9:38
• Evan Weiss — Trumpet
• Ben Bohorquez — Saxophone
• Phill Aelony — Guitar
• Kwinton Gray — Keyboards
• Wes Stephenson — Bass
• Cedric Moore — Drums
• Recorded at The Echo Lab, Denton Texas; recording engineer: Matt Pence
• Mixed by Rick Carson assisted by Connor Murray; Make Believe Studios, Omaha Nebraska
• Video Production by Alex Von Kurkendall and Ben Bohorquez
• Wes Stephenson plays Trickfish Amps
• Cedric Moore plays Liberty Drums, Evans Drum Heads, and Meinl Cymbals
• Phill Aelony plays Moollon guitars and 3rd Power amps
Glide November 6, 2019
• The Dallas~based sextet Funky Knuckles belong to a new generation of improvising musicians, part of a large movement that includes such bands as Snarky Puppy, Ghost~Note, and the Horne Electric Band, to name just a few. Their sound is a blend of composition and improvisation and, importantly, the sound is much more far~ranging than just pure bass~keyboard driven funk. In fact, some of the sound belies the band name, as it’s ethereal and loose. Light and tight prevails over dark and thick. Delicious is the band’s fourth album from a group comprised of trumpeter Evan Weiss, saxophonist Ben Bohorquez, guitarist Phill Aelony, keyboardist Kwinton Gray, bassist and group spokesman Wes Stephenson, and drummer Cedric Moore. All remain intact from their last release New Birth which featured an octet. Gray is a new member, and percussion and alto sax are no longer part of the configuration. All current members contribute compositions to this ten~track effort.
• The opening “Llamas of the Sea,” written by Aelony, the biggest contributor with three compositions, has Weiss’ trumpet floating over spacey chords from Gray, as he intersperses guitar lines to stir up what seems like a calm flowing piece that leads to several harmonic changes punctuated with Gray’s Fender Rhodes before ending in a chordal explosion. Stephenson’s “Blue” begins with a funky bassline but soon ventures into exploratory fusion with the horns playing both in an ensemble and in their own adventurous solos above Moore’s incessant driving rhythms.
• “Tooth,” Weiss’ singular contribution, clearly falls into the ethereal camp, unfolding into several highly melodic passages led by his trumpet and Borhorquez’s sax as Gray again comps on the Rhodes. Momentum builds behind the sax and aggressive beats as Wiess sustains it over a bed of keyboards (Rhodes, organ and synth) before the synth run moves it into outer realms before the theme returns to an abrupt ending that segues into the even lengthier “Megaboss.” That one begins with a melody that dissolves almost as quickly as it ensues, the trumpet sparring with soprano sax to a steady, thick beat and more dissolution, and so it goes to Rhodes solos and resumption of the original theme.
• “Stormcrow,” penned by Aelony, fittingly opens with a menacing, threatening tone that gives way to skittering keyboards with the horns as a backdrop until Borhoquez and Weiss take respective turns before joining in an ensemble that one could easily envision as a clarion call warning of an impending storm. The intensity keeps building to an ironically calm final chord. “Life Minor,” a Moore piece, has a challenging syncopated start and stop rhythms that the band embraces. It has an expressive rock~like guitar break for Aelony, with Moore’s driving beats, Gray’s swirling synth, and Stephenson’s rambling electric bass blending in unabashed jazz~rock fusion. “The final tune, “Digital Compromise,” penned by Stephenson starts out as a vehicle for Aleony, buttressed by some horn ensemble parts, before a keyboard~guitar dialogue carries most of the tune, a clear standout track.
• It’s clear throughout that the band members are closely attuned to one another in their deft handling of the many changes, the interplay, and economic soloing. As soon as the band sounds as if they may venture into lengthy improvisational jamming, they pull back, and move in a different direction or repeat the original theme. The sound quality is superb, although in some cases it seems a little too keyboard dominant. Nonetheless, The Funky Knuckles demonstrate instrumental prowess and more subtle underpinnings of their grasp of contemporary R&B, electronica and funk that allow them to venture off, knowing they can change course, or return home easily. More than anything though, this is one of the better examples of harmonic exploration in a fusion format — a terrific listen.