Bassist Victor Wooten brings harmony wherever he goes

Grammy-winning musician Victor Wooten can distill his unique talents into just one skill. The artist, who has won five Grammys, published acclaimed books, traveled the world, taught at prestigious universities and summer music camps, says that one thing among all his attributes has led to the reality of these achievements. : listening.

Wooten, who made his classical music debut with the Boston Symphonic Orchestra over Halloween weekend, has released his latest book, The Spirit of Music: The Lesson Continues, earlier this year in February. For the renowned artist, listening is the key to conversation, and indirectly to creative prosperity. The more you listen, the less you need to say; if you listen, you can talk to anyone. But the idea is to actively listen. And that’s what, Wooten says, partly leads him to undertake more teaching engagements amid his busy touring schedule, which brought him to Seattle, Washington, on the weekend of November 5. .

“I still have a lot of things I want to do in life, musically,” says Wooten, 57. “A few more books, more music camps, and hopefully a lot more teaching.”

Perhaps as much as any artist, the Idaho-born Wooten is a mystic; as much a Jedi as a jazz player. He is both calm and open, as well as wise and experienced. The root of this coolness probably stems from the fact that, as Wooten puts it, he was literally born into a group – his family. As a child, he was born into a family of musicians. His three older brothers, who already played regularly when the eldest was only eight, had chosen the path of Wooten, he had to be a bassist.

“My path has been chosen for me,” says Wooten. “And I am very happy about it.”

Only two years separate these older brothers Wooten, Reggie, Roy and Rudy. Reggie played the guitar; Roy, who would later join Victor in Bela Fleck’s group, played drums; Rudy was playing the sax. Joseph, a fourth older brother who was a little younger than the older three, had also started playing the keyboard. All they needed was low end and that’s where Wooten came in. Wooten says he was happy with the bass assignment. For him, music is like language. Just as infants come into their families and learn the language (without knowing any formal grammatical rules), he learned and learned music.

“I’m two and Reggie is 10,” Wooten says, recalling the early years. “He’s a grown man, in my mind. And here is my chance to grow with them. I learned very early on before I even knew what I was learning.

If his brothers had spoken Russian, he might have understood that instead. Or if basketball or soccer had been the family goal, so to speak. But it was music, and in this way, Wooten said, the instrument was almost insignificant. It was bass and it was good; he was born with it as if he was born with vocal cords or fingers. However, Wooten remained unique in the way he approached it. He wasn’t the type to work alone in a bedroom, scratching at ideas or tripping over techniques. Again, he equates this with learning to speak his mother tongue.

“When you were learning to speak English,” Wooten says, “how many were you sitting in a room practicing? Very little, if at all. The goal was not to improve in English, it was, how can I express that? “

With the family group, Wooten learned pieces of music if that’s what a given job, like a wedding, demands. But he wasn’t sitting there like an athlete in the weight room for 12 hours a day. Instead, he was playing. Learn his own voice, where he liked to go and what he could bring to the proverbial game. Later in life, with a foundation of his own personal expression, he began to study scales and the like. While Wooten knows theory is needed at some point in his musical journey, it’s not what should be inundated early in a child’s entry into art.

“We always make sure that young musicians learn our work,” he says, “what we want them to learn”.

When people talk or play music, they invariably express ideas, philosopher Wooten. And if so, then they express flashes of the mind, but what are they? Now, he said, the conversation lands on the subject of disturbs, the essence, the spirit of a person. Wooten, who featured on a prominent live album by the Dave Matthews Band at the start (see below) and has long performed with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, has also become a well-known improviser and composer as a solo artist. . Collaboration, he says, is about sharing unique voices, together.

“Our voices are different,” says Wooten, “that’s what makes a band better. Different voices. Dave [Matthews] don’t make me on stage to look like someone other than me. He adds, “When you look so good, people will love it, people will at least take note.”

For Wooten, individuality is crucial. We are all unique, from plants to animals. We were born that way; the trick is to listen to yourself and discover it fundamentally. The beauty of this is that you can do it everyday, like a flower blooming over and over again. What helps is being surrounded by people with whom you can exchange ideas. This is one of the main reasons Wooten enjoys teaching. Effort, he says, takes precedence over his personal to-do list.

“The future looks bright to me,” says Wooten. “I see young single-digit musicians – 8, 9 years old – playing things that I can barely play. It lets me know the music is safe. But these young people need experience. They can imitate the same way a child imitates the way his parents speak. But I want to make sure they have good things to emulate. Because we adults can sometimes do silly things; we storm the capitals if we don’t get our way.

Wooten quotes his mother, who liked to say, “There are enough people going up, but not enough people going up. Wooten says he aspires to be one of those people who are making their way to the top. She also said, “What does the world need with just another good musician?” What the world needs are good people. As such, Wooten cares about these essential aspects of a person’s mind. If you listen to this, everything else will follow in harmony.

“Music brings people together,” says Wooten, “without strength.”

(Photo courtesy of LPC Media)


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