On Wednesday, March 20, the renowned jazz bassist and five-time Grammy Award winner Victor Wooten put on a stellar performance in the Concert Hall. In conjunction with the Theological School’s Social Justice Leadership Project, Wooten performed several songs connected to the theme of self-love. As an introduction to Wooten, Mark Miller, Associate Professor of Church Music, Director of Craig Chapel and Composer in Residence at the Theological School, performed an original piece of his called “Child of God.” While Miller was performing, Wooten slipped on stage to join him in a nonchalant manner, resulting in a quick miniature jam session.
Once the introduction had concluded, Wooten did what he does best: play the bass as if it were a guitar. While Wooten did not announce most of his pieces, he did constantly evolve and adapt each piece over the course of the 10 to 15 minutes each of them lasted. I was thoroughly impressed by Wooten’s remarkable skills on the bass.
In a jazz ensemble, it is a known fact that within a rhythm section, the bass typically only plays the roots of chords and keeps the groove. However, Wooten did the exact opposite. While he still kept the groove (which he put into a loop pedal) and then treated the bass as if it were a guitar soloing over the groove he had set for himself.
COURTESY OF TYRIK ONCE
One of my personal favorite moments from the concert was a small demonstration of the functions of his foot pedals which then led into a song. During his demonstration, he explained in great detail how he is able to keep various beats and backing tracks going at the same time. Wooten also talked about how his pedals are able to store and use their own internal memory to keep grooves and other backing tracks ready whenever. What was most impressive about this demonstration was how he led into a song that he wishes he wrote: Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” Wooten even used the tracks that he had just made during the demonstration as the backing for his version of Wonder’s song.
Another great part of the evening was when Wooten performed a tune which was a cross between a spoken-word poetry and music. He used the format of a song to convey a story about a person he ran into the other day that told him they were God. It was a really pleasant song that also connected with the crowd and involved some audience participation in repeating a lyric whenever they were cued in by Wooten.
The evening concluded with a rendition of “Hallelujah” and “Amazing Grace” performed by several faculty members and students of the Theological School, one of which even brought in her didgeridoo. The song itself was a simply phenomenal, expertly mashing up “Amazing Grace” and “Hallelujah.”
This concert was by far one of the best performances held in the Concert Hall this year, proven by the fact that the event was completely sold out. To those who were able to come and witness it, the music of Wooten is certainly now some of their all-time favorite. For those who were unable to make it, do yourself a favor and listen to the music of Victor Wooten – you will not regret it.