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Victor Wooten: Palmystery

A longstanding member of the Flecktones and recent member of Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, Wooten is among a handful of elite electric bassists today who are developing a new post-Jaco vocabulary on the instrument. On the genre-bending Palmystery, Wooten showcases his extraordinary range and unparalleled facility on a collection of originals that run the gamut from jazz to fusion, funk, gospel and world music. The powerhouse “2 Timers,” featuring former fellow Flecktone Howard Levy on harmonica, is a tricky workout wherein Wooten’s crew deftly juggles 3/4 and 4/4 simultaneously while “Cambo” is a Middle Eastern-flavored jam with his brothers Regi on guitar and Joseph on keyboards, along with Amir Ali’s exotic vocals and darbouka. Wooten’s spoken word recitation on “I Saw God” is a philosophical Rubik’s Cube set to an upbeat African highlife groove colored by Wooten’s nimble, melodic basslines and Richard Bona’s mellifluous vocals. “The Lesson” is a show-stopping duet with brother and fellow Flecktone Roy “Future Man” Wooten on cajon and handclaps in which Victor simultaneously plays chords, arpeggios and melody lines while also strumming aggressively in a flamenco manner. On “Left, Right & Center,” Victor alternately funks it up and burns a fuzoid blue streak alongside guitar killer Mike Stern, spurred on by a triumvirate of drumming dynamos in Will Kennedy, JD Blair and Dennis Chambers.

Other highlights include the Corea-inspired “Flex,” with its avalanche of challenging stop-time unison lines, Wooten’s contemporary take on Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father” featuring Karl Denson on tenor sax, his high-spirited collaboration with the Florida-based gospel group the Lee Boys on “Miss U,” in which Wooten exchanges slide bass licks with pedal-steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier, and his collaboration with Dobro ace Keb’ Mo’ on the mellow closer “Us 2.” Few other bona fide chopsmeisters reveal as much sheer musicality as Wooten does on his Heads Up debut.

Originally Published