‘I saw God today’. Well, not quite, but the title of Victor Wooten’s 2008 track serves as a good opener for what we witness tonight.
If Victor Wooten is not God in the world of bass, then he must be some kind of musical freak alien sent down to show us all what can be done on four strings. In all honesty, we had cynical doubts as we entered the Komedia’s intimate, low ceilinged ’Main Space’. Yes, Victor Wooten is a fantastic musician, but he’s not necessarily known for his songwriting skills, so we had to wonder how a show that was set to last nearly two hours was really going to work out. You can only listen to a bass solo for so long.
However, these doubts quickly dissipate when Wooten steps out to an eager crowd (largely consisting of bass players) and pulls off some mind-blowing solo bass that encompasses everything: it’s clever, it’s beautiful, it grooves, it’s even comical.
He is joined on stage by drummer Derico Watson, bass player Anthony Wellington and Victor’s brother who taught him to play, Regi Wooten. The overall musicianship is astounding. Even Wellington, who has the daunting job of playing bass for a man who is essentially the world’s greatest bass player, is fantastic, trading licks and solos with the great man, like it ain’t no thang.
Each musician in fact, has their own moment in the spotlight and they all shine equally. The drummer, Derico Watson, manages to steal the show on many occasions. Whether it’s playing a tasteful groove, highlighting all the little intricacies and subtlety of the bass, or a thunderous drum solo that floors everybody in the room, Watson is the perfect accompaniment to Wooten.
Towards the end of the evening, the show does descend into a medley of old Motown and Disco classics, but this is how Victor learnt his craft as a boy, playing with his brothers in the family band ‘The Wooten Brothers’ who, when Victor was just the tender age of 6, were supporting the great Curtis Mayfield. So a trip down memory lane never hurt anybody, and hey, you have to play the hits.
The evening is finished with an insane medley of time signatures, that Wooten calls out, seemingly off the cuff, that is as impressive as it is confusing. We walk away with our minds thoroughly blown, and a new found appreciation for the man, ladies and gentlemen, Victor Wooten.
Komedia, Tuesday 5th July 2016
Words by Lloyd Coote
Photos by Gili Dailes