Victor Wooten Live In America

Wooten may still be young, but he's been working in the music business for a while. He played in a band with four of his brothers when he was five and they were opening for Curtis Mayfield and War before Victor reached double digits. Most recently he's been the bass-playing Flecktone in Bela Fleck's band. He's also released three previous solo LPs and Live In America finds him, two of his brothers and a non-familial drummer laying down 18 live tracks on two CDs, recorded all over the U.S. The primary focus is funk and R&B, but there's also some smooth soul balladry, jazz and rock. These guys got chops up the yin yang but it isn't about virtuosity - these guys know a groove. Sure, there's plenty of string popping and slapping, but it never gets gratuitous and the sheer appeal and puppy dog eagerness to please rescues them any time they start to stray. There's one point where brother Regi Wooten spews a particularly hot solo and it sounds like Frank Zappa's in the house. And anybody that can start out with a handful of James Brown songs, move through Hendrix and end up smack dab in the middle of "Iron Man" and have it all make perfect sense is okay in my book. Bootsy Collins and ex-Miles Davis sideman Marcus Miller sit in, while rapper Divinity brings a hip-hop element to a handful of tracks. But if some of the shout outs work better if you're actually there, the guitar squawk box was already trite when Frampton came alive and some tracks are more grooves and jams than nuggets of songwriting, it doesn't really matter, because if you understand the groove, you will understand this. After all, the groove was good enough for James Brown and George Clinton, wasn't it? (Compass)