The story of Victor Wooten is closely connected with the GRAMMY-winning supergroup, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. As a longtime member of the group and under the influence of genius and bandleader Béla Fleck he developed his incredible mastership and technique as one of the premier bass players worldwide. It's naturally that further bass mentors were Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham and Bootsy Collins. After Show of Hands, in 1996 Victor recorded What Did He Say? (1997), Yin-Yang (1999 ), the two-disc Live In America (2001 ), Soul Circus (2005) and now Palmystery (2008).

Victor comments the title of his new album: "A song is just an idea until someone brings it into the world,” he says. “That’s the great mystery of music or any creative endeavor. The power is in the palm of your hand. You just have to release it to the world.” Guest musicians on his new album are  Mike Stern, Richard Bona, Keb’ Mo’ and several others. But not the names of the musicians are important. It's the idea, the concept, the process of creation.  “It doesn’t matter how you go about writing songs,” says Wooten. “The music is coming from somewhere. If we think it’s our brain, or some strictly intellectual source, I would say we’re mistaken. Sometimes the songs show up quickly, almost completely. That’s when you realize, ‘Wow, I didn’t even write this song. It happened on its own.’ But whether it comes together in 30 minutes or several months, it’s coming from the same place. Call it what you want to – spirituality, mysticism, whatever – that energy is there. The musician is the conduit that enables that energy to enter the world.”

After such great philosophical words let's have a glimpse on this fantastic album. With the introducing piece Timers Victor immediately clarifies his position as top notch bass player and excellent composer. The arrangement reminds me of structures and arrangements I observed in Joe Zawinul's work. It's jazz fusion with a popular appeal. Serious but attractive. Ingenious the entry of Howard Levy on harmonica. Howard was a founding member of the Béla Fleck & the Flecktones and is a longtime friend of Victor.

Gambo is a piece of galactic dimension. This macabodacius assimilation of human language by filters and presets makes me speechless. Joseph Wooten on keys is a sorcerer and Derico Watson on bongos drummed by sticks, what a hell of sound tight adroitness and swiftness. Really men, you give me a whack. The future of contemporary jazz looks bright.

South Africa's Township Jive, originated from the townships around Johannesburg, is a fertile ground for I Saw God, an uplifting narration featuring Richard Bona. Victor comments: “This was one of those songs that just came to me one day. It turned out to be one of the songs that everyone was talking about after our shows were over. I think it’s a powerful piece of music. It’s going to make people think and ask questions. And it might even make some die-hard religious people a little nervous. To me, that’s exactly what some music should do.”

Victor Wooten's Bass/Nature reunion camp in the Montgomery Bell State Park is legend. Many have experienced this feeling of nature and music. Now having visited this school, we enjoy The Lesson, a special Flamenco experience. Get some flava from Andalusia.

Left, Right & Center starts with a jazz fusion theme before flooding into a melodious river, just to turn back to fusion arcades. Foremost this a drummer's song, JD Blair (The Groove Regulator), Will Kennedy and Dennis Chambers are sharing the drum sets. Neal Evans spreads his fingers on a Hammond B3, Mike Stern on his guitar and Victor Wooten on his Fender bass. This is an energetic pack, full of tension and vitality.

Starting with smooth strings Sifu reveals a complex inner life. Sifu (師傅 - Chinese word for master) Brian Edwards was in Victor Wooten bass camp 2002, renting now his vocals to this song. Shawn "Thunder" Wallace, a professor of music at The Ohio State University, adds his fantastic alto sax, Mike Stern his well-known guitar riffs, Morocco-born Amir Ali decorates the tune with his Arabian vocals (Check out his album Mina!).

Miss U is featuring The Lee Boys (Alwin Lee, Derrick Lee and Keith Lee) and especially Saundra Williams, a fine, dark skinned, lanky dreadlocked chanteuse. The Lee Boys are one of America’s finest African-American sacred steel ensembles. Along with their three nephews, Roosevelt Collier (pedal steel guitar), Alvin Cordy Jr. (7-string bass) and Earl Walker (drums) they heated a variety of venues ranging from intimate club settings to performing arts centers to large festival stages.. The musical genre is rooted in Gospel, but infused with rhythm and blues, jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop, country and ideas from other nations.

Victor has dedicated the tune Flex to his longtime band mate Anthony "Flex" Wellington. He is since 1999 in Victor's band and also teaches bass in Victor's bass camp besides his own academy. Of course this tune mirrors the power of both bass masters.

The Gospel
presents Victor's family  with the help of a snippet from an old Southern Baptist hymn sung by Wooten’s mother. “I recorded her singing it to me over the telephone and it just happened to fit into the song perfectly,” says Wooten. “I had my aunts and uncles sing along to give it the genuine sound. My brother Joseph added the second section. We recruited the younger generation of relatives to sing on that section. It’s a bringing together of the old and the new.”

Song For My Father was released by Horace Silver in 1964 on Blue Note and became Silver's most popular composition. Steely Dan's "Rikky Don't Loose That Number" was also influenced by this song. Wooten's rendition just shares the melody with the original walking deep into Hard Bop, Swing and Funk.

With the uplifting Happy Song Victor enjoys the smooth jazz community. The song has still his quality by Victor's excellent soloing along the melody. The final Us2 featuring Victor Wooten on slide bass and Keb' Mo' on slide guitar is a real song of magical beauty.  “I thought of Keb’ when I first wrote this song,” says Wooten. “He added the grit that the song needed. I also play slide bass on this one, which creates a unique blend of the two sounds. Us 2 shows a softer side of my playing, and I like how it leaves you in a peaceful place at the end of the record.”

Victor has reached with Palmystery the summit of his bass mastership. It's no surprise that after Stanley Clarke Victor joined the Heads Up International. Hopefully for a long time.




  • Bio
  • Victor Wooten's website
  • CD available here:
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  • Album information:

    Title: Palmystery
    Artist: Victor Wooten
    Year: 2008
    Length: 1:05:53
    Genre: General Jazz
    Label: Heads Up International

    01 Timers [4:52]
    02 Cambo [5:26]
    03 I Saw God [4:20]
    04 The Lesson [5:55]
    05 Left, Right, & Center [7:12]
    06 Sifu [7:36]
    07 Miss U [4:34]
    08 Flex [6:37]
    09 The Gospel [6:43]
    10 Song For My Father [5:19]
    11 Happy Song [4:24]
    12 Us 2 [2:56]