Inspired jazz, funk, and pop from Victor Wooten
I’ve been a fan of Bela Fleck for a long time (not that fella Beck, Bela Fleck). He’s an amazing musician who is equally at home in bluegrass, jazz, classical… in fact, I’ve never heard him fail at anything he has ever tried musically. Of course, part of what makes his music so great is the broad range of talented musicians he plays with and how well he meshes with them. His band, The Flecktones, have more talent than the first 6 seasons of American Idol and though they are each worthy of a separate post, today I want to talk about the best pure bass player I know of, Victor Wooten.
He can lay down a nice pocket groove, play melodically at the forefront, pop and slap a funky line, and even create that musical rarity, an engaging bass solo. In fact, at one Flecktones show, I saw Victor step up for a bass solo. The first thing he did as he was playing was twist the tuning pegs so the notes bottomed out. He continued playing muddy, low notes and turning the pegs as he went. It was weird, but interesting. After doing this for about 2 minutes, he suddenly began picking out a funky line and you realized he had somehow sneakily re-tuned his bass back up where it belonged while fooling the audience. It was cool. Fleck, with his typical unassuming demeanor, simply ambled up to the mike and quietly uttered, “Wow, Victor.”
Anyway, Wooten has been a Flecktone for 20 years, but during that time he has also released half a dozen solo albums and played with several other bands. What has surprised me is that he continues to improve not only as a musician, but as a songwriter. His 2008 release, Palmystery, is my favorite of his solo albums. The songs are gorgeous, and even the slow, emotional songs radiate a deep joyfulness that is pleasing to the ear. Check out these 4 tracks.
- 2 Timers – This starts out a lot like a standard big band jazz tune except for the harmonica, and then about halfway through it starts changing speeds and takes on a more uplifting feel.
- Cambo – You might expect music like this if you were already familiar with Wooten: crazy time signature changes, fast picking, jazzy guitar, evocative vocals, and a fantastic groove.
- I Saw God – My daughter loves this song and so do I. It is just the most joyful song and the lyrics are a little trite, but thoroughly enjoyable for all that. If you follow one link today, go listen to this song.
- Us 2 – This slow and beautiful instrumental closes the album. He doesn’t flash any crazy technique on this track beyond displaying great tone. It’s all about the melody and the mood it creates.
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