MusicMarauders Presents: Victor Wooten Band & Garrett Sayers Trio 2.9.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn

My friends ask me all the time, “Kevin, what do you think is the most important instrument in a jam-band?” To me this is a very interesting question, as I always thought that the words piano or keyboard would immediately jump out of my mouth. Being a pianist I am usually biased towards the melodic nature that the ivories provide, but recently I have started to notice that without a decent bass player on stage, my feet just don’t get that same “dancing” feeling. So when I saw our homegrown bass virtuoso, Garrett Sayers, on the same bill as international bass god, Victor Wooten, I knew it would be a special night.

When I arrived at Cervantes I immediately noticed how packed it was for the opening band, the Garrett Sayers Trio. In the approximately fifty times I have seen a show at Cervantes I had never seen it that packed for any opening act! Maybe the weekly residency at the Highland Tap had really gained Garrett and his trio an awesome local following? Was the crowd drawn in with the want to get a good seat for Victor Wooten and his funky friends? Whatever the reason was it was elbowroom only on the always-delicious Cervantes floor and Garrett’s one hour set did not drop a beat. Smooth transitions, great interplay between the band members, and just some downright jazzy jams got the bass-loving crowd hooting and hollering from start to finish. If people in the crowd didn’t know who Garrett was before the show, they certainly were digging his stuff after, as the ovations got louder and more intense with each song. I am one of the lucky few that have witnessed the real growth of this trio and wow did they sound well rehearsed and tight! From one song to the next it was funky, jazzy goodness as Garrett dropped one bass bomb to the next with laser-like precision! What a great way to start off a night of, in my opinion, the most important instrument in any type of jam scenario... The bass!

Until now I had never had the opportunity to see the Victor Wooten in person. I have heard mixed reviews ranging from “oh, my god!” to “There was so much R&B…" I was pumped to finally be able to see one of the best bass players on the planet do his own thing. Victor’s band consisted of two drummers, one singer, and four bass players. Yes, you read that correctly… four bass players! Playing everything from slow smooth jams, to rocking covers of Eric Clapton’s Cocaine, to an exhilarating Amazing Grace > Hallelujah combination, Wooten’s band has something that every type of music fan could enjoy. As the conductor/leader of the ensemble, Wooten ran around on stage changing bass instruments and shouting instructions from one song to the next, and he always seemed to have a huge smile on his face. In my opinion the highlight of the night was when Victor invited his friend Michael Cox to the stage to take part in a sit-down cello/bass duel. To say Mr. Cox was a bit unique is an understatement, but he sure could rip it on that beautiful cello of his. Well, what happened next still has me baffled, confused, and utterly disjointed.

Michael Cox did not just rip it, he fucking killed it to the tenth degree! He possessed a beautiful assortment of sounds and techniques, which had the Cervantes sound system working extra hard to pick up the small subtleties in Cox’s furious finger movements. As Victor and his band sat back and watched the magic in front of them it was very evident that Cox meant a great deal to Victor and his playing was an inspiration for all to be heard. Wooten eventually sat down and joined Cox on an upright bass playing just as precisely with a bow as Cox himself, but the energy that the random musician possessed was contagious. After the classical portion of the night ended, the funky dance party got back underway and the evening raged on from bass solo, to bass duo duel, to some of the craziest bass playing I have ever witnessed!

To summarize the bass-extravaganza with Garrett and Victor leading the way is a hard task. There were so many highlights from each band, and the crowd loved both almost equally. Maybe next time around Garrett and Victor will play a tune or two together? Now that would be bass-tastic!

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