Desert Island Jazz
Victor Wooten (2012)

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(Photo by Steve Parker)

Bassist Victor Wooten was born in Mountain Home, Idaho, near Boise. There must be something in the water up there because so many of those few jazz musicians from that state are bassists, including Gary Peacock, and the Bates brothers, Bob and Norman, who played with the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1950s.

But Victor was the only one in his family to be born in Idaho. In fact, each of his four older brothers was born in a different state: their parents were from North Carolina, and their father was in the Army.

All his brothers are musicians, too, and it's the oldest, Regi, whom Victor credits for his following that path: Jeri began to teach Victor bass when Victor was aged only two. As Victor himself puts it, "My brothers, who were already playing music, knew they needed a bass player to complete the family band. Regi started teaching me as soon as I could sit up straight, and my parents let him do it." Four years later, he was playing in front of crowds with his brothers' family band.

They toured, supporting Curtis Mayfield among others. After the family moved east, the band started playing at Busch Gardens. Victor taught himself fiddle, played cello in high school, and became proficient on banjo, too.

Victor has won Bass Player magazine's "Bass Player of the Year" award three times in a row, and was the first person to win it more than once. He has five Grammys, and he has been the bass player for Béla Fleck and the Flecktones ever since that group got going in 1988, almost—can it be?—a quarter of a century ago.

Victor and his wife run an extraordinary music and nature camp an hour or so outside Nashville, Tennessee, helping people become "more like music".
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 John Coltrane Giant Steps Naima Atlantic
# 2 Bobby McFerrin Bang! Zoom! Bang! Zoom! Blue Note
# 3 Victor Wooten Yin-Yang Resolution Compass
# 4 Jaco Pastorius The Essential Jaco Pastorius Three Views of a Secret Legacy
# 5 Victor Wooten Palmystery Sifu Heads Up
# 6 Victor Wooten Palmystery The Gospel Heads Up
# 7 James Brown 40th Anniversary Get Up I'm Feeling Like Being a Sex Machine Polygram
Book A book of family photos
Luxury Item That same book of family photos
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