Telluride Jazz Fest: Victor Wooten Returns To Perform & Teach

Telluride Jazz Festival, August 9-11, 2019, still has tickets on sale. Go here for details. 

Bass ace Victor Wooten performs at 43rd annual Telluride Jazz Festival Thursday, August 8, 9 p.m at the historic Sheridan Opera House; on Friday, August 9, 6:30 p.m., he lights up the Main Stage in Telluride Town Park.

Reserve your spot for Victor Wooten’s Master Class titled “Music of Nature and the Nature of Music.” The registration fee is $5. Students must be able to walk at least one mile. Only 30 spots available.

“I was born at the right place and the right time to a wonderful family,” Victor Wooten.

If he appears too good to be true, that’s because he is.

Victor Wooten’s jaw-dropping dexterity is the stuff of legends. Easily one of the greatest bass players alive – Rolling Stone named him one of the top 10 bass guitarists of all time – he continues to reimagine his instrument. These days, Wooten, also a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician, and acrobat, (as well as a loving husband and father of four), is also writing a new concerto to premier in May 2020 at the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Best known in the jazz world for his work with the genre-bending Bela Fleck and the Fleckstones, which he co-founded with Bela – Wooten also gets funky solo and on tour with his brothers: Regi, Roy or “Futureman,” and Joseph.

But before the Wooten siblings take Europe by storm this fall, the living legend and five-time Grammy-winner returns to Telluride to perform with his sibs at 43rd annual Telluride Jazz Festival: Thursday, August 8, 9 p.m., Find Victor Wooten at the historic Sheridan Opera House; on Friday, August 9, 6:30 p.m., he lights up the Main Stage in Telluride Town Park. Prepare to hold onto to your seats. Better yet, don’t. Just get up and shake your tail feathers.

But wait, there’s more…Telluride Jazz recently announced a masterclass: “Music of Nature and the Nature of Music.”

“Join Victor Wooten on Friday, August 9 from 12-2 pm for a nature walk to the scenic Lower Bear Creek Waterfalls (located near Town Park), followed by a short walk up the river trail (the walk is on relatively flat ground) to the Sheridan Opera House where Wooten will lead a Masterclass.”

“Wooten will use his electric bass to guide concepts and ideas of viewing music and nature as its own language. Wooten will also explore the idea that music, nature and the verbal languages are serving the same purpose, as a form of expression. A universal language,” explains Telluride Jazz.

Regardless of your instrument (including voice), style, or level, Wooten’s intensive presents a unique opportunity to rapidly up your game, no matter your instrument. The particular blend of music and nature instruction should enhance each participant’s natural ability in the moment. After all, we are talking about a man who is sought-after teacher at two of top music schools in the country: Berklee College of Music and Stanford U.

Styles may progress, harmonic and melodic languages expand, but essentially fundamental concepts remain the same. Not so with Victor Wooten.

After him, every bassist in the world has had to think differently, much as guitarists did after Hendrix. Young bassists now start from a different set of assumptions than their predecessors did a generation or so ago. Wooten’s blazing, percussive chops have lit fires in many of them; his explorations of melody, nuance, and phrasing have changed their game.

Teaching is clearly one of Victor Wooten’s gifts and calling, whether working with kids at his Center for Music and Nature at the 147-acre Wooten Woods retreat in Tennessee, (now celebrating 20 years), or outlining his philosophy of music in a novel, “The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth through Music,” part of the curriculum at The Berklee College of Music, Stanford University, and other prestigious institutions. (The sequel is due out late fall 2020.)

And of course Wooten continues to inspire through performance.

Victor Wooten, more:

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; at age six, he was on tour with his brothers opening shows for legendary soul artist Curtis Mayfield.

Soon after, Wooten became affectionately known as the eight-year-old “Bass Ace.”

“I learned to speak music the same way we learned to speak English,” he said. “No one sits you down and says, ‘Here’s the role of your voice. Learn these words. Go and practice.’ No, you just talk, and your parents allow you to talk even though you might speak ‘incorrectly.’ You do that for years before you learn about grammar. I learned music the exact same way.”

Before graduating high school, Wooten 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 all that only begins to tell the tale of this Tennessee titan and Telluride legend.

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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