Victor Wooten Biography
Victor Lemonte Wooten (born September 11, 1964 in Hampton, Virginia) is an American electric bass guitar player. He is sometimes referred to as "the Michael Jordan of bass".
The youngest of five brothers, he was taught by his older brother Regi to play bass at age three, and by age five Victor could hold simple bass lines and play gigs. The Wooten Brothers band (Regi, Rudy, Roy, Joseph and Victor) played for many years in the 1970s around Williamsburg, Virginia in the Busch Gardens theme park, as well as opening up for Curtis Mayfield and War. After moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1988 Victor was immediately recruited by blues and soul singer Jonell Mosser. A year later he was hired by banjo maestro Béla Fleck, along with keyboardist and harmonica player Howard Levy and Victor's brother Roy Wooten (a.k.a. Future Man). Their group, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, became famous first by playing a mixture of jazz, funk, and bluegrass, then later becoming one of the most stylistically free-swinging bands of the modern era. (Levy eventually left the group and was replaced by saxophonist and horn player Jeff Coffin.)
Wooten has also been a member of several fusion and progressive supergroups, including Bass Extremes (with Steve Bailey, Derico Watson and Oteil Burbridge), the Vital Tech Tones (with Scott Henderson and Steve Smith), the indian jazz fusion band PRASANNA, and the "Extraction" trio (with Greg Howe and Dennis Chambers). Victor has also been on tour with many other bands including the Dave Matthews Band. He currently tours with his solo group, and still with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.
The evolution of a higher standard in electric bass guitar construction methods, such as a lower action (the distance from the string to the neck) more akin to that of a six-string electric guitar, allowed Wooten to develop many new fingering techniques that were essentially undiscovered before his time. As a child, his older brother Regi Wooten helped Victor develop his double-thumbing technique as a way to more accurately reproduce the basslines of such greats as Larry Graham. This technique, which has been independently utilized by other bassists (notably Marcus Miller) uses the thumb to strike both downwards and upwards on a string in a manner similar to a guitar pick. Victor is also famous for his Stanley Jordan-like two-handed tapping and trademark open-hammer-pluck technique.
Wooten is most often seen playing Fodera basses, of which he has a signature model. His most famous Fodera, a 1983 Monarch Deluxe which he refers to as "number 1", sports a Kahler Tremolo System model 2400 bridge. Fodera's "Yin Yang" basses (designed/created for Wooten) incorporate the Yin Yang symbol - which Wooten often uses in various media - as a main focal point of the top's design and construction. It is often mistakenly thought that the Yin Yang symbol is painted onto the bass, but in reality, the symbol is created from two pieces of naturally finished wood (Ebony and Holly, for example), seamlessly fitted together to create the Yin-Yang pattern.
Though Wooten's beautiful and impressive basses receive much attention, his most frequent and consistent response when asked by his fans about which bass is best, etc. ..., is that "the bass makes no music ... you do". He'll often go on to state that the most important feature to look for in a bass is comfort of playability. This seems closely related to another fundamental truth about Wooten's stated approach to, and experience of bass and music in general, which is that music is a language. According to Wooten, when speaking or listening, we don't focus on the mouth as it is forming words; similarly, when a musician is playing or performing, the focus shouldn't be on the instrument.