“I was born at the right place and the right time to a wonderful family”
It goes without saying, five-time Grammy-winner Victor Wooten is on any list of all-star bass players. In 2011, Rolling Stone voted Wooten one of the “Top Ten Bassists of All Time.” His solo concerts are legendary because as an innovator, he evokes improbable sounds from both electric and upright bass.
“In many ways, Wooten picked up where Jaco Pastorius left off when he died in 1982. As the bassist in the Flecktones, Wooten has a funkier style than Pastorius, but both were masters of intricate jazz melodies as well as complex R&B arrangements. Every player in the Flecktones is a master, but when Wooten busts out a solo at a concert every jaw in the audience drops to the ground. He’s guested with the Dave Matthews Band numerous times, often delivering an amazing solo on ‘#41.’”
Wooten is also the consummate team player. His sought-after skills and growing popularity have led to recordings and performances with artists such as Chick Corea, The Dave Matthews Band, Branford Marsalis, Keb Mo, Susan Tedeschi, Govt Mule, Bruce Hornsby and Stanley Clarke to name just a few.
And as fans of Telluride Bluegrass are well aware, Victor Wooten is a founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, which he and the legendary mandolin player got off the ground with a running start in 1987 and includes brother Victor, “Future Man.” The group’s genre-defying sound continues to make waves.
Hold onto to your seats. Better yet, don’t. Get up and shake your tail feathers when Victor Wooten returns to Telluride to perform at the 36th annual Telluride Jazz Celebration which takes place Friday, August 3 – Sunday, August 5. His set is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, 7 p.m.
In the narrow gaps between his intense touring with The Flecktones, Wooten has been recording and mixing a new CD scheduled to be released in two versions simultaneously in September on his own label, Vix Records, which he founded in 2011.
Words & Tones is comprised of 13 songs –11 new original tracks and 2 cover songs – which all feature a female voice. Vocalists include longtime friends Saundra Williams (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings) and Divinity Roxx (Beyonce), as well as Wooten’s brothers and kids.
Sword & Stone is the purely instrumental rendition of the two recordings. To make things more interesting, Wooten has added new arrangements, solos, instruments, and musicians to the CD.
And each new CD features songs not found on the other.
On his current tour, Wooten brings Krystal Peterson, a young singing sensation from Cincinnati. Also joining the “Bass Ace” are longtime cohorts J. D. Blair, Derico Watson, Anthony Wellington, Steve Bailey, and Dave Welsch, also featured on the new CDs.
To keep his musicians on their toes, each of them will multitask during their sets, switching instruments mid-song. The result is a part-choreographed, part-improvised display of musicianship and showmanship at their bravura best. Instruments include bass, acoustic bass, drums, keyboards, trumpet, trombone, cello, percussion, vocals, and more.
“Like the new records, I’ll make a slight departure from previous bands. This time around, I’ll be featuring a unique mixture of multi-instrumentalists. Fans can expect high-energy, world-class musicianship, and as always, things they’ve never seen or heard before. The show will consist of mostly new music from my upcoming 2 new CD’S, but will also feature songs from my earlier releases, as well as original music from members of the band,” explains Wooten.
“Rare are the opportunities for a concert goer to experience quite as bodacious of a sound as that of four masterful bass players and two world class drummers delivering a battery of original sounding funk, soul and highly technical jazz instrumentation to the belting lyrics of a talented and vivacious singer. And that was just the second song of the Victor Wooten’s band’s first set,” wrote a critic about a recent show in Cleveland.
Victor Wooten was a child prodigy. Born in 1964 the youngest of five boys, he began learning to play music at the tender age of two. He started performing in nightclubs and theaters as the bassist with the family band at age five, and at age six, was on tour with his brothers opening shows for legendary soul artist Curtis Mayfield. Soon after, Wooten became affectionately known as the 8-year-old “Bass Ace.” Before graduating high school, he and his brothers had shared the stage with artists such as Stephanie Mills, War, Ramsey Lewis, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Dexter Wansel, and The Temptations. But, this only begins to tell the tale of this Tennessee titan.
Add to his list of credits, the fact that Victor is a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician and acrobat, as well as a loving husband and father of four.
To learn more about his life and work, click the “play” button and listen to my interview with Victor Wooten.