Wooten, McGaha and mates go on musical exploration
When it comes to pigeonholing their music, Victor Wooten and Rod McGaha are of the same mind: They don’t care to confine themselves.Wooten, acclaimed as perhaps the finest bassist of this generation, rose to fame as part of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, a combo renowned for combining bluegrass, jazz, funk and more into a unique sound. Trumpeter McGaha was raised on funk and r & b, found a love of jazz through his father’s extensive record collection, and has played country gigs, created hip-hop grooves and explored traditional acoustic jazz on his latest recording.So when the two of them come together in Wooten’s quartet tonight at the Double Diamond, fans should expect to hear the widest spectrum of sounds. The quartet includes guitarist Regi Wooten, who played with his younger brother Victor and several other Wooten siblings, in the Wooten Brothers Band. Rounding out the foursome is drummer J.D. Blair, who has regularly toured with Victor Wooten since the bassist began touring under his own name several years ago, as a sideline to his work with the Flecktones.The four have a wealth of material from which to choose. Wooten has released three acclaimed CDs under his own name – the solo bass recording “A Show of Hands,” 1997’s “What Did He Say,” and this year’s wide-ranging double CD “Yin-Yang.” In recent gigs, according to McGaha, the band has been dipping into the later output of Miles Davis, exploring his more rhythmic outings like “Do-Bop” and “Tutu.” Segments of the show will feature duets between Wooten and Blair, a sound that went over fine when the two made an appearance in Aspen two years ago. All four of the musicians add vocals to the mix, and Wooten has a MIDI hookup for his bass to make saxophone-like sounds.When Wooten and Blair performed their first date in Aspen, it was just the two of them, making music with just bass and drums and occasional vocals. Still, the two were able to get the Double D crowd up and moving. With two extra sets of hands, Wooten said the groove will only grow.”It makes it a little easier,” said Wooten of the quartet as opposed to the duet. “I have a little lighter load to carry. But doing the duet isn’t that tough. You can create any song with just a bass line and drums”But I wanted to do more than just a straight bass line. I wanted melody and chords, so I could go off and do more. You just have to learn how to groove, how to make it groove. That’s the key. And people can feel that groove.”McGaha appreciates that wide-open palette that Wooten works with. On his first recording as a leader, “The Servant,” McGaha explored rhythmic jazz and hip-hop beats; on his latest, “Preacherman,” McGaha plays more traditional acoustic jazz, all with a gospel-like undertone. In the music of Wooten, McGaha finds many ways to fit in his variety of sounds.”It’s definitely along the lines of things that I do,” said McGaha of Wooten’s style. “And that comes from growing up listening to all kinds of music, from r & b to hip-hop.”When I was coming up, I was into the Jackson 5. I hated jazz. I was playing modern-day funk. But my dad had such a huge jazz collection and was such a huge fan, that I slowly started getting into it in high school.”About the last thing McGaha wants to do with the music is to categorize it. Still, he finds it has much in common with the approach Miles Davis took on his later recordings.”To have some type of reference, if you listen to projects like `Do-Bop’ and `Tutu,’ it’s something like that,” said McGaha, whose past bands have included both Regi Wooten and J.D. Blair in their memberships. “That was like a funk band; he was leaving the traditional jazz and doing more contemporary stuff.”
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