THE VICTOR WOOTEN TRIO | London, Ronnie Scott’s

“Growing up my friends talked about wanting to be a fireman or football player, while I just wanted to be Stanley Clarke. I’m still not Stanley Clarke. Tonight I’m just going to be Victor Wooten for you.”

We’ll take it.

If you’ve never experienced Wooten’s distinctive sound, then you’re missing out. Throughout a high-powered two-and-a-half hours, he pushed the range you ever thought was attainable on a bass to new and imaginative horizons.

The same goes for Bob Franceschini (Sax) and the great Dennis Chambers (Drums), rounding out the Victor Wooten Trio. With seemingly limitless air-supply, Franceschini pushed out incessant harmonies and smooth melodies. Swapping his sax for a flute, then manipulating his sound through looping pedals, he often sounded like a full woodwind section.

As a former (amateur) drummer, the chance to see Chambers was a treat. He was the glue holding the tracks together while the trio’s rhythms syncopated. He progressed the group from complex fills to tightly-managed time changes, with an ease cultivated over decades of playing with some of the world’s greatest musicians.

A particular highlight of the set was the rearrangement of the track “Zenergy”, from Wooten’s 1999 album, Yin-Yang. The original featured Béla Fleck on Banjo (alongside Jeff Coffin and Carter Beauford), but the division of labour between Wooten and Franceschini was seamless. With a nod to Wooten’s creds, playing with some of the great jam bands out there, he wove “Smooth Criminal” and “Brickhouse” into a lengthy, impressive solo.

We certainly didn’t have to settle for just Victor Wooten.

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