Victor Wooten Trio 10.1.17
Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley
Words & Photos by Erica Garvey
“We all have dreams. One day I’m going to be an adult.” – Victor Wooten
The overwhelming impression emanating from the first few notes of the Victor Wooten Trio’s performance was the sparse band’s mighty sound. Not sparse in the sense of talent, but a trio of bass, drums, and saxophone is not the most common instrumentation used to bring down the house. Performing six consecutive shows at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle, the Victor Wooten Trio brought together Dennis Chambers on drums, Bob Franceschini on saxophone, and the one and only Victor Wooten on bass.
I attended the final performance of the group’s Jazz Alley run on Sunday, October 1, 2017. The evening’s performance was characterized by effortless transitions from full-throttled energetic bass/sax duets to slow Miles Davis-esque jams, with many a creative drum solo thrown in. The collection of drums and five cymbals was large enough to keep one-and-a-half drummers busy, but Chambers’ drumming style is the opposite of frantic. Naturally, Wooten had his own library of instruments on stage, including a beautiful fretless bass that evoked a penetratingly sad feel when Wooten deployed a bow toward the end of the performance.
Songs included “Liz & Opie,” “A Little Rice and Beans,” a sort of mash-up of “My Life” and “Quimbara,” “Zenergy” (which started out sounding like massage music, but evolved into classic Flecktone territory with some actual “Brick House” mixed in!), “Dc10” (which had a time signature of 10/4, and a “Flight of the Bumblebees”-style bass part so complicated that utilizing a loop pedal was the only way its composer could keep it going for a full song), and an encore showcasing “The Lesson.”
I am always fascinated watching bass players hold down the bottom rungs of a song while filling in riffs and solos normally reserved for guitar players. To my amateur ears, half of the songs felt unstructured. But it was obvious that I was surrounded by unapologetic music nerds and super fans who certainly “got it.” Even if some moments were above the average patron’s understanding, it is difficult to resist the charms of Wooten’s cheeseball smile and his circus-act maneuvers in which he flips his bass around his midsection and shoulders so fast I literally did not know what was happening.
Please keep having fun, Victor, and never grow into an adult.