Funky Knuckles Bassist Wes Stephenson Releases Solo Debut, “In Progress”
Wes Stephenson has been lending his incredible bass playing to artists, including his band The Funky Knuckles, for decades. Now, the groove guru has released his debut solo album, entitled In Progress. Stephenson, like many others, launched himself into his work during the mayhem that was 2020.
“When everything happened in March of last year I, like so many other people, was very concerned about the future of my profession,” he shared. “I didn’t want to sit idle though. I felt that writing a record would at least keep me busy and in a creative zone, so to speak.”
In Progress is a culmination of the bassist’s musical journey up to this point and mixes the blues, R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and hard funk into his own signature sound. Each song explores several textures and genres to create a record that really draws you in. It begins with “Buster (Gods Been Good To Me)”, which blends a loping, Dilla-style beat with a head that has one foot in rock and one in Neo-soul.
A portrait of Stephenson’s musical identity also comes in “MJPTB”. The song alternates between a circular groove that sounds almost dystopian and a straight-ahead shuffle blues. In an interview last year, the bassist explained to us that some of his formative years were in rich blues and jazz scene in Dallas, Texas – even though he was interested in more abstract sounds.
“I love the blues now, but at that point, I was more into improvisational music and exploration,” he said. “[The jam] was a bunch of older dudes that were super cool. I was only 19 and wasn’t even supposed to be in the club, but they would basically let me come in there and let me do whatever the heck I wanted to do.”
Stephenson called on a host of amazing musicians to fill out his vision, including guitarists Mark Lettieri and Isaiah Sharkey; drummers Cedric Moore, Jason “JT” Thomas, and TaRon Locket; and saxophonists Jonathan Mones and Ben Bohorquez. Check out this amazing album with the deep pocketed “LiQ”:
In Progress Track List:
- Buster (God’s Been Good To Me)
- Wheel in a Wheel
- To The Moon
- Sleepy Candy