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Victor Wooten

An extremely gifted and versatile bassist, Victor Wooten is a highly acclaimed performer whose work straddles the lines between jazz, bluegrass, funk, and progressive rock. Easily considered among the top echelon of bass players in history, Wooten first came to prominence as a member of the Grammy-winning ensemble Béla Fleck & the Flecktones. As a solo artist, he has recorded numerous well-regarded albums and been named Bass Player of the Year by Bass Player magazine three times. He is also a member of the bassist supergroup S.M.V. alongside Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller. Born in 1964 in Idaho, Wooten grew up in an Air Force family and moved several times before his parents settled in Newport News, Virginia. At age three, his brother Regi taught him to play bass, and at age five he made his stage debut with his four older brothers in the Wootens, playing songs by R&B mainstays like James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, War, and Curtis Mayfield. After playing regional tours and opening for acts like Mayfield and War, the Wootens recorded an album in 1985. However, the record received little commercial or critical response, and eventually the Wooten Brothers found other gigs (though they continued to reunite for tours and several albums). By 1988, Victor Wooten moved to Nashville to join a rock band, and the following year met Béla Fleck, the banjo player for New Grass Revival. Fleck was forming a jazz group to appear on a TV show; he recruited Wooten, his brother Roy on drums, and Howard Levy on keyboards and harmonica. As the Flecktones, the group earned numerous accolades, including four Grammy nominations and a number one album on the jazz charts with 1991's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo. As the '90s progressed, Wooten added a solo recording career and numerous collaborations to his duties in the Flecktones. Along with solo albums like 1996's A Show of Hands and the following year's What Did He Say?, Wooten contributed to albums by friends like David Grier, Paul Brady, and Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque. His third solo album, Yin-Yang, which featured appearances by Fleck, Bootsy Collins, and the Wooten Brothers, was released in 1999. Arriving in 2001, the double-disc Live in America documented four years on the road. After tours with the Flecktones and a 2001 release/tour with the group Bass Extremes, Wooten returned to his solo career in 2005 with the album Soul Circus. Released in 2008, Palmystery included turns by violinist Eric Silver and harmonica player Howard Levy. Wooten delivered the bass and vocals-heavy solo effort A Show of Hands in 2011. Also that year, he was back with the Flecktones for the Grammy-winning and Billboard number one jazz album Rocket Science. The ever-prolific bassist delivered two albums in 2012: the vocal effort Words & Tones and the instrumental Sword & Stone. He then joined the Wooten Brothers for a reunion tour in 2013. In 2017 Wooten delivered his tenth solo album, TRYPNOTYX, featuring contributions from drummer Dennis Chambers and saxophonist Bob Franceschini, as well as vocalist Varijashree Venugopal and innovative vocal effects comedian Michael Winslow.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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