Victor Wooten flips the expected contemporary instrumental genre on it's head with an introspective look at himself, his music and what lies ahead. Stellar!
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
Words and Tones is a whole lot of music and a whole lot of Victor and that is a beautiful thing. Essentially a tale of two releases, Word and Tones is a unique two disc set from this five time Grammy winner and arguably the finest electric bassist since Jaco Pastorius. Initially I was skeptical at not only the comparison to Pastorius but a two disc set with one disc an entire vocal release. The most common reader complaint with releases from instrumental titans such as Wooten are the addition of what are for the most part passing off as lame cross over attempts that take too much time away from the featured artist. Victor Wooten is clearly the man on both but let's take a quick look at disc one first.
Disc one is fairly easy. Take the best bass player on the planet at the top of his game and toss in 13 original composition steeped in flavor and with a plethora of jaw dropping bass solos and you have disc one in a nutshell. The public domain tune "Pass Me Not, O' Gentle Savior" done with Wooten on basses and drum programming along J.D. Blair on drums is as thoughtful and artistically presented as perhaps any tune Wooten has laid down for release.
Disc two is a slightly different animal and potentially fraught with harmonic peril as Wooten takes on a major vocal role but does so with surprising skill and wonderfully emotive phrasing and timing. Some of the standout tunes here include a funk infused neo-soul riff on the Bonnie Raitt hit "I Can't Make You Love Me." Kit LeBlanc's vocals are spot on and made better by the fact she never tries to over sing a tune that could easily trip up a lesser vocalist. The Stevie Wonder classic "Overjoyed" seems to be in the arsenal of every modern day contemporary bassist and Wooten is no exception. Krystal Peterson handles the vocal choirs here and again crushes a tune that could be a sonic minefield for some. A masterful arrangement that pops with a new vibrancy not heard often by others attempting this cover. Rap is simply is not in my wheelhouse. "Heaven" incorporates a soulful spiritual message and an incredibly ingenious use of rap/spoken word into an exciting new hybrid that seems to be growing in popularity. Victor Wooten has the vocal groove down solid. composing twelve on the tracks on disc two. A nice mix is having some tunes both as instrumentals and vocal tracks. Consider this review as much about the packing as the product itself. The packaging and presentation are top shelf, the music even better. 5 Stars.
Victor Wooten continues to raise the musical bar some seem insistent to limbo under.
Tracks: Disc One - Sword And Stone; Love Is My Favorite Word; Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior; Get It Right; A Woman's Strength; It's All Right; Love To Hear You Laugh; Say Word; Be What U Are; H.O.P.E; Brooklyn; Still Your Baby; Merlin; Keep It Low.
Disc Two: Listen And Be Silent; Sword And Stone; Love Is My Favorite Word; A Woman's Strength; I Can't Make You Love Me; Brooklyn; Say Word; Be What You Are; Get It Right; When U Grow Up; Overjoyed; Heaven; It's All Right; Love To Hear U Laugh.