AT ANY GIVEN POINT IN ONE’S LIFE, HE OR SHE GRAPPLES with justification of his or her age. The young assert the benefits of vigor, energy and strength. The old maintain that wisdom and experience supplant lost youth. In 1993 I was 34; not as yet decrepit enough to deem myself old, yet not an ignorant teen either. I was at that time brash enough with youthful energy to be able to suggest ludicrous ideas to potential subjects without the fear of their jaded rejection. Some blew me off , but others took the bait and collaborated on interesting and fun images. Fortunately for me, Victor Wooten, one of the hottest young bassists in the industry, was also brash and energetic, and reputedly would take his young zest and bravado so far as to perform backflips during concerts. I had come across this fact either as a matter of hearsay, or perhaps I had dreamed it—I can’t remember which—but nevertheless, it was in my mind as I awaited his arrival at our offices. As soon as we sat down to get acquainted, I pounced on him and announced, possibly a bit overly enthusiastically, that I wanted to capture the spirit of his generation and display him doing his backflip in the pages of our magazine to both the Bass Player readership and the world. In that order of importance.
Victor, being not only one of the greatest bass players alive, but also one of the coolest, mulled for two seconds and said, “Um. Okay.”
Please understand that had I asked an older, more mature player, the answer would have been quite different. A standing backflip, with bass, is not something for the meek to try at home. Just thinking about it as I am writing this caused my rotator cuff to separate, and Victor, in an act of flagrant verve, pulled it off without so much as a grunt.
But how to capture such a thing, you might ask?
Ah-HA! Here is where energy, and experience mingle —albeit a bit awkwardly, like me at a cocktail party. As a child, I would steal my father’s Bolex 8-millimeter movie camera and film neighborhood kids doing absurd things. This technology is, by 1993’s and especially today’s standards, profoundly obsolete and one that only an experienced old fart would consider a plausible medium (try asking teenagers today if they know what an 8-millimeter movie is), but I somehow managed to buy some film, dragged Victor out onto the lawn, and with the very same Bolex scrounged out of a box in the garage, captured his magic on 20 tiny frames of celluloid.
The resulting series of images is, in my humble opinion, beautiful in its simplicity and reminiscent of Eadweard Muybridge’s multi-camera motion studies of the late 1870s. In my limited scope of knowledge this may be the first motion picture ever to appear in a bass magazine, or quite possibly any print magazine. We have reprised it here for your viewing pleasure. Please turn to page 12 and flip fan the corner from front to back. I recommend a packet of microwave popcorn and a oversize box of Junior Mints to enjoy during the show.