Simply the Greatest Bassist Alive


A pretty good indication there may be a bass player in the act

A pretty good indication there may be a bass player in the act

WC and Mrs. WC had “Meet and Greet” tickets for Victor Wooten’s show in Boise Thursday night. Everyone in the small group had a chance to talk with Wooten before the show.

Victor Wooten chatting with some fans, pre-show

Victor Wooten chatting with some fans, pre-show

WC eavesdropped as a woman ahead of his told Wooten, “I’ve been playing the bass for 25 years, and when I hear you play it makes me want to give up and quit.”

Wooten’s response? He said, “I’m a big fan of Martin Luther King, I think he was the greatest public speaker who ever lived. But when I listen to his speeches, it doesn’t make me want to stop talking. It makes me want to work harder.” And gave her a hug.

How can you not love a guy like that?1

Of course, it helps that Victor Wooten is an astonishingly good musician, and surrounds himself with equally good artists, and then pours everything he has in to his shows. Backed by world-class Dennis Chambers on drums and the excellent Bob Franceschini on saxophone, Wooten gave the crowd everything from straight-ahead, bass-led hot jazz to Brahms, and most genres in between.

Wooten jamming some funk (Mrs. WC photo)

Wooten jamming some funk (Mrs. WC photo)

Most of the tunes were off his most recent album, Trypnotyx, and while WC isn’t a serious jazz fan, the songs do showcase the skills of this jazz power trio. And Wooten live is something entirely different from a recording. He is an engaging stage artist, and his evident joy in his music infects his fellow musicians and the crowd. Wooten has been playing the bass since he was a toddler – he had paying gigs when he was six years old – and he isn’t afraid to experiment.

Want to hear Brahms played on an electric bass guitar, with a bow? Or how about recording two different loops, and then donning a different bass guitar and improvising against those two recorded loops? How about juggling your bass guitar, and not missing a note?  Not to mention finding sounds in a bass guitar that no one else even suspected were in there.

WC particularly enjoyed the funky songs, because, you know, melody. And watching and listening as Wooten and Franceschini exchanged licks on “Play that Funky Music” was pure joy. Wooten can show pure flash, incredible runs and picking. Or just lay down a solid groove for Franceschini and Chambers to play around. It’s why WC calls Victor Wooten the best bass player alive today.

Victor Wooten is also a composer of some skill, an author, a teacher and a naturalist. If WC had the least trace of musical aptitude he’d attend one of Wooten’s summer music camps just for the sheer pleasure of Wooten’s company.

WC first saw Wooten with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones – Wooten is a founding member of that 30-year old group – and was stunned by Wooten’s solo set in the second half of the concert. WC promises you that in the years since Wooten has only gotten better. To quote a line from an earlier concert review,

No, Wooten’s bass didn’t catch on fire, but it was that close.

The Victor Wooten Trio doing its thing (Mrs. WC photo)

The Victor Wooten Trio doing its thing (Mrs. WC photo)

 

 


  1. WC tried to buy the “Wootonium 432” t-shirt Wooten was wearing but they weren’t for sale. 
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2 thoughts on “Simply the Greatest Bassist Alive

  1. I am not familiar with Victor Wooten, but I am certainly familiar with drummer Dennis Chambers. He played on a Steely Dan tour in (IIRC) 1994 or 1996 and drove a brutal sledgehammer groove that jazz wizards Fagen and Becker were able to play off of brilliantly. Just a towering talent. Glad you got to see him live in an intimate venue.

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