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July/August 2005

Victor Wooten
Soul Circus
Vanguard

Extremely versatile and flamboyant, Nashville bassist Victor Wooten is a dominating, exciting personality on electric bass, something that's reaffirmed by the best pieces on Soul Circus. Indeed, Wooten's desire to experiment, operate in multiple idioms and expand his duties far beyond anchoring a band and delivering occasional astounding solos is evident in this disc's array of styles. Wooten delves into R&B, funk and soul, does a Native American homage and also performs numbers that integrate hip-hop with hard bop and/or rock.

He also produced the date and wrote or cowrote most of the numbers, but Wooten doesn't stop at the instrumental and supervisory end. He frequently provides lead or background vocals, sometimes singing effectively but never approaching the flair or slashing energy of his bass playing. Still, there are many wondrous collaborations between Wooten and numerous A-list musicians, among them harmonica ace Howard Levy, drummer Dennis Chambers, dynamite saxophonist Jeff Coffin and longtime mentor and bass compadre Bootsy Collins. Their encounters are so musically compelling that the disc's less-than-inspired stretches and the handful of tunes featuring rather shaky singing are quickly forgotten.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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