Victor Wooten, Soul Circus (Vanguard Records)

Ever since Stanley Clarke laid down the blueprint for modern bass players everywhere
with his anthemic “School Days” ode, life at the low end hasn’t
been the same. Along comes Victor Wooten, the very Bela Fleck Flecktone, with
his own finger-funkin’ spin on things that’s bound to have a profound
effect on future thumpers to come. Galactic oscillations, paranormal observations
(as rapped by Bootsy Collins), passion, poetry and a panoply of heart-attack
hitting funk, lushly-layered soul funk, jazzed funk, bombastic funk and chunks
of every imaginable funk are the real circus here. Besides his flickering fast
bass runs, Wooten pushes his masterpiece into sensory overload with constant
that can’t all permeate the cranium all at once. He tributes the deities
of the bass, features Bill Miller on some insane Native American ceremonial chanting,
goes scat crazy and even ventures to Indian while ripping on the sitar bass.
The disc’s crowning moment arrives with “Cell Phone” that taps
the ironies of the wireless communication era (can you hear me now?) while the
breathtaking “Ari’s Eyes” slows the rush down a bit. Throughout
these proceedings, Wooten’s got it right—the Victor always wins.