Laurence Curtis Washington
Funky grooves and jazz improvisations come to mind when describing ace bassist Victor Wootens musical mastery.
Wooten won his second Nashville Music Award for Bassist of the Year in 1999. And was named one of the Top 10 Bass Innovators of the '90s by Bass Player Magazine. Wooten is the only bassist to receive the magazines Bass Player of the Year award three times. And as a member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Wooten has two Grammys on his mantel.
Wooten started playing bass at age 3, when his father was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke and Motowns legendary shadow man James Jamerson were early Wooten influences. But his older brother Regi was his biggest influence: He taught Wooten to play the bass.
"I was so young I dont even remember why I chose the bass," Wooten says. "I guess because my four brothers already had their instruments picked out."
Wooten was 5 when he played his first professional gig after his family moved to Newport News, Va. Along with his four brothers, Wooten played Sly & the Family Stone, War, James Brown and Curtis Mayfield songs at local recreation center dances.
The next year the Wooten brothers were opening for Mayfield and War. They played several years at Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Va.
In the 80s, Wooten and his other brother Roy, moved to Nashville, to play in a rock band. They eventually met banjo wizard Bela Fleck, who was putting together a jazz band, which became the Flecktones.
"I dont get a whole lot of time to perform away from the Flecktones," Wooten says. "But its a good balance and its fun getting a chance to do my own thing. The Flecktones are a big part of me. But theres an individual thing that I want to express also."
Wooten has three solo albums to his credit "Show of Hands" which had Wooten whipping his electric bass into a wicked frenzy punctuated with an eclectic blend of rap, jazz, blues and rock. "Show of Hands" was followed by, "What Did He Say?" A great album where Wooten overdubs the bass and uses different people and instruments, and tape loops to repeat bass lines over and over.
Wootens current effort Yin-Yang the bassist connects musical opposites mixes, mingles, and has the cords play off each other.
When Wooten performs, he says his music is all over the place: jazz, blues, rock and classical.
"Just come and have some fun, and dont analyze the music," Wooten says. "It wont be a Flecktone show. It will be totally different."
For Victor Wootens tour dates and current projects visit: www.victorwooten.com