Victor Wooten puts the bass on top at Ronnie Scott’s

No one really noticed the quiet, contemplative figure who was sat listening to young pianist Charlie Stacey play an enthralling opening set at Ronnie's, yet bass titan Victor Wooten did just that. Perhaps he was sizing up the crowd, more likely he was just caught up in the music. Either way, by the time he hit the stage shortly after, he seemed to have the measure of this hallowed jazz space. Remarkably, this was the bass boss's debut appearance at the club – his starry bandmates, Dennis Chambers and Bob Franceschini, have both appeared before – and the relaxed atmosphere was perfectly conducive to Wooten's most playful instincts. Quite possibly the most technically gifted bass player of his generation, Wooten's status beyond the bass world has seen him grab Grammy Awards with banjoist Béla Fleck and tour alongside fellow low-end legends Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke. He joked with a wry smile: "I always wanted to be Stanley – I'm the short version".

This is just one example of the bassist's natural good-humoured showman tendencies, which are deeply imbedded thanks to having been playing gigs from the age of six with his Wooten Brothers family band. While there are countless proficient copy-cat players today, few know how to bring the house down with a carefully deployed body-spin, like Victor, deftly leaving his bass stationary, seemingly floating in the air as he pirouettes on the spot to grab the bass and eye-ball the crowd with a knowing stare. It took the audience's breath away. So much so he paused briefly to ask someone in close proximity "are you OK?" They were. Just. While this may be old-school stage-craft, it helps leaven the sheer density of notes that fly from him hands – his trade-mark 'double-thumbing' slap style capable of unleashing furious volleys of sound – almost like a tuned drum solo, which takes the lineage of Larry Graham's innovative percussive slap into another pyrotechnical universe.

Wooten1 DSC02016

The trio format allows each of these excessively skilled players space to roam – albeit initially with Wooten's bass volume pushed to excess for the first three or four songs. The latterday delicacy of Chambers' once steam-roller funk drumming was nearly little lost in the mix, but as the sound evened out the subtle beauty of his stick-work shone through. He didn't hold back all the time though, ramping up the tension with some dizzying metric shifts and thunderous solo breaks. Franceschini, like Wooten, made tasteful use of myriad effects to expand and harmonise his angular single note lines, sometimes creating a one-man sax chorus, while his solo sparring with Wooten sent bebop-esque sparks flying. Drawing mainly on music from the trio's 2017 Trypnotyx album, the songs showcased the rhythm section's mastery of dime-stop timing and huge shifts in dynamics – very often dropping to near silence – or actual silence – for pure dramatic effect. The bassist's renowned solo spots are always a highlight of his gigs and tonight he conjured soft chordal swells, pianistic two-handed runs and an increasingly long melodic loop, adding each extra note with Samurai-like skill to produce an unplayable snaking cascade. This compelling sight and sound even managed to stop the waiting staff in their tracks to simply marvel at the bassist's bewitching sonic magic.

– Mike Flynn

– Photos by Christian Doho

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Zara McFarlane and Soweto Kinch turn up …

The night goes on and they keep on coming, a...

Read More.....

Jazz meets theatrical protest with The A…

Few styles of music can claim to have come as...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy return with new album Immig…

Grammy-winning groove crew Snarky Puppy return with a new studio...

Read More.....

Blue Note spearheads 80th Anniversary Ye…

The iconic Blue Note label will celebrate its milestone 80th...

Read More.....

John Turville dives in Head First – new …

Pianist and composer John Turville returns with a new album...

Read More.....

Uri Caine and Henri Texier dazzle while …

Jazzfestival Münster is celebrating its 40th anniversary, but has only...

Read More.....

Ezra Collective bring the Brit-Jazz Nois…

Much like in other recent editions of New York's Winter...

Read More.....

Yazz Ahmed and Jasper Høiby line-up for …

For some there is a Holy Grail in jazz: to...

Read More.....

Matthew Herbert marks Brexit with Big Ba…

Composer, conductor and sampling-supremo Matthew Herbert is set to release...

Read More.....

Joseph Jarman 14/09/37 – 9/01/19

  The recitation of 'Non-Cognitive Aspects Of The City' by Dante...

Read More.....

Wandering Monster step up with 'Samsara…

Bass-led progressive jazz group Wandering Monster are set to release...

Read More.....

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Oded Tzur Quarte…

  The unfeasibly warm November weather was matched by the heat...

Read More.....

Edinburgh embraces the Thrill of Belgian…

Belgium may be better known for its beer than its...

Read More.....

Mitchener And Yarde Break Blues Boundari…

The blues is a lived and living truth, as much...

Read More.....

Ra's Arkestra Announces Annual Lewes Aff…

The Sun Ra Arkestra – led by that indomitable intergalactic...

Read More.....

Steve Williamson, Silje Nergaard and Tin…

Southampton’s Turner Sims music venue has announced an impressive line-up...

Read More.....

19-year-old vibraphonist Sasha Berliner …

19-year-old vibraphonist Sasha Berliner wins LetterOne Rising Stars Award California-based...

Read More.....

Nordic Wonders: Rune Grammofon Bring The…

Determined individuals who ignore categories define the Norwegian scene, in...

Read More.....

Mehldau Marvels At Jazztopad

  The entire spectrum can dazzle at Jazztopad, a Polish festival in...

Read More.....

Jazz FM Awards return for 2019

The Jazz FM Awards return for a sixth time next...

Read More.....

Chick Corea, Madeleine Peyroux and Kamaa…

The organisers of the Love Supreme Jazz Festival, which runs...

Read More.....

Peter Boizot 1929 – 2018

The press obituaries for Peter Boizot, who has died aged...

Read More.....

David Mossman – 17 July 1942 - 8 Decembe…

Ahead of starting the Vortex in 1988, there is nothing...

Read More.....

Greg Fox and Pulverize The Sound punish …

  The second phase of Poland’s Jazz Jantar festival involved five nights...

Read More.....

Astral Progression Ensemble and Irrevers…

  Jazz Jantar has been running in the northern Polish port...

Read More.....

Tippett & Bourne, Liane Carroll and…

The Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival will return for its...

Read More.....

Jessica Radcliffe poised an poetic for R…

In this centenary year of the end of the First...

Read More.....

Iridescent Ibrahim Leads Multi-Horn Boon…

The Barbican's foyer is still resounding to the tumultuous multi-horned...

Read More.....

Maisha raise Afro-futurist spirits at Gh…

Scrolling down the posts on Facebook, from people pleading for...

Read More.....

John McLaughlin and 4th Dimension Back F…

Legendary jazz-rock guitarist John McLaughlin has just announced a return...

Read More.....

Dave Douglas Supergroup Dazzles Among Ho…

  Guimarães is Portugal’s birthplace. Surrounded by verdant hills, this quiet...

Read More.....

Bill Laurance Goes Big At Southbank With…

  At certain moments during this concert, Bill Laurance looks like...

Read More.....

Trans-Atlantic Team-Up: Chicago X London…

Much has been written about the jazz scene that has...

Read More.....

Dalston Devils: Branch and Brandon Lewis…

The Vortex and Cafe OTO are separated by a few...

Read More.....

Mike and Leni Stern light up Ronnie Scot…

What an unexpected pleasure to see Mike Stern exchanging guitar...

Read More.....

22-year-old saxophonist Xhosa Cole wins …

Saxophonist Xhosa Cole has been announced as the winner of...

Read More.....


Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@WANDAGROUP "Hear that, that's better than music, that's the sound of a world choking on its own exhaust"
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Great to see Henry Crowder (pictured) and Langston Hughes both included in the Barbican's marvellous Modern Couples… https://t.co/baBQermI9O
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA