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Soul Circus by Victor Wooten

The latest release Soul Circus from bassist Victor Wooten is exactly what it says it is a circus. Let me first say don’t expect a jazz album from this one. Victor is working on a new category- family friendly hip-hop. I do believe Victor is one of the most extraordinary bassist to grace the instrument. With that said this album is nothing near extraordinary. It is amusing, the grooves are funky, the bass playing is tight, but the entire album is a little overly produced. Between the vocals, Bootsy Collins and daunting rapping it became hard, almost frustrating to enjoy the music behind it. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts so it is an enjoyable album for many people. The fans of "Show of Hands" and "Yin and Yang" or Bela Fleck may not be those people. Maybe the fans of Dave Matthews will dig Victor’s message of love and politics over these funky, hip-hop grooves.

Soul Circus is a collection of songs written by Victor and his various collaborators. His songs all have a strong positive message and many songs are very amusing. "Cell Phone" is a clever song/rap written around the sound of Victor’s cell ring tone. "Natives" is a nice funk tune fusing funk with Native American vocal chants. Victor’s "Bass Tribute" is a clever song that pays homage to all of the great bassists of past and present from Jaco to Bootsy. Victor asks, "What would (bassist name) say if he was here today?" followed by one of their signature licks. It is worth listening to the cut just to hear Victor nail each bassist signature lick note for note, tone for tone. Of course the song right before that is one called "Victa" completely about you know who. Victor is one heck of a producer. "On and On" is reminiscing of many classic Chaka Kahn songs. Saundra Williams is the featured vocalist and she does have a smooth voice. The closest thing on the album to an instrumental is the final track called "Ari’s Eyes". The track is so beautiful that it almost makes you mad he didn’t put more songs like that on the record and left off a few rappers. Victor even does much of the drum programs on the album.

The album is still a fine record though some tracks may not be what many Victor fans may expect, but then there are some fans that will love it. That is what makes him a true artist, the album pleases Victor. Victor says himself that he listens just as much to music he doesn’t like as music he does. You can learn something from all types of music. There is a lot to learn from this album. Be sure to check out more Victor at www.victorwooten.com, a great site for music and lessons from a truly wonderful bassist.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Victor Wooten
  • CD Title: Soul Circus
  • Genre: Soul / Funk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Vanguard Records
  • Tracks: 1. Intro: Adam 2. Victa 3. Bass Tribute 4. Prayer 5. Natives 6. Cant Hide Love 7. Stay 8. On and On 9. Cell Phone 10. Back to India 11. Soul Circus 12. Higher Law 13. Take U There 14. Ari's Eyes 15. Outro: Kids 16. Bass Tribute (reprise)'
  • Musicians: Victor Wooten (bass, vocals, drum programs), Joseph Wooten (keys, vocals), Regi Wooten (guitar), Derico Watson (drums), Dennis Chambers (drums), JD Blair (drums), Saundra Williams (vocals) MC Divinity (vocals), Howard Levy (harmonica)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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