When the time came for electric bassist/vocalist Victor Wooten to choose tracks for his first live project — the two-CD set “Live in America” (Compass Records) — he had to sift through five years of concerts that often ran up to three hours per show.
The ultimate selection featured on the set treats listeners to a jazz, pop, and soul-influenced romp through Wooten’s peerless, high-energy stage performances.
“I think there’s much, much more energy on a live record than a studio record,” says Wooten, also a member of Bela Fleck’s band, the Flecktones. “Live records to me are like that if you don’t clean them up, and we didn’t at all. There’s so many things on there where you can hear me say, ‘Go to this key.’ There’s a lot of off-the-cuff things.”
Since the release of his 1999 album “Yin Yang” — in addition to the tour and release of the Flecktones’ “Outbound” (Columbia) in 2000 — Wooten has been hard-pressed to work on a new solo studio album. Thus the primary reason for the artist opting to issue a live recording. “I figured since I had multi-tracked [my] last tour — and tours before that — we could put together a live record faster than my next studio record. This way, we could at least get something out. People will get something that’s good quality, and I won’t have to rush it.”
The song list that Wooten chose for the new set (released Oct. 9) heavily represents his more recent tour, though it still features material from each of his solo projects and respective tours. Included are such tracks as “Miller Time,” new tune “Nobody Knows My Name,” and Bootsy Collins’ “Are You Ready, Baby?”
“To have this document is great,” says Garry West, co-founder of the Koch-distributed Compass. “Victor’s live show has always included more energy than I remember seeing in anyone’s live show-ever.”
Featuring Wooten’s brothers, Regi (guitar) and Joseph (keyboards), and female rapper Divinity, among others, “Live” was serviced to jazz, smooth jazz, jam band, triple-A, and college radio. The album, says WDET Detroit PD Judy Adams, “parallels our philosophy, which is that music is music and categories are meaningless. Our listeners want substance — they don’t just want entertainment.”
Wooten’s live chops with the Flecktones will also soon be available for fans of his work. The group will release “Live at the Quick” Feb. 12, 2002, through Columbia on CD and DVD. The album was recorded across two shows at the Quick Center for the Arts in Fairfield, Conn., and will be supported by a U.S. tour beginning Feb. 26 in Johnson, Vt. Seven dates in Australia, followed by a lone show in Japan, kick off March 29.