Bassist Victor Wooten has always been musical innovator, challenging the limitations of the electric bass and, in the process, developing new sounds and ways to play the instrument. His songwriting follows the same pattern. Whether composing as a founding member of the genre-bending bluegrass/psycho-space outfit Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, his family band (The Wootens), or his trio, Wooten expressively merges jazz, soul, rhythm and blues, and "that funky stuff" into compelling arrangements.
Much of his music is instrumental, but one of his two recent releases boasts vocals of the female kind on every track. In fact, the two albums -- Words & Tones and Swords & Stones -- are intertwined, one being more or less an instrumental version of the vocal version. Both albums have standalone tracks as well.
Up on the Sun recently caught up with Wooten, a five-time Grammy Award winner, to discuss his ideas behind releasing two albums together, growing up in a musical family, his exploration of the bass, and whether he's still slinging it over his shoulder in concert -- a trick he developed by watching Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham on MTV.