It was the CD that stopped the bass world in its tracks, smashing the supposed technical and musical limitations of the instrument. To launch his new label, Victor Wooten has re-released his dramatic 1996 solo debut—which featured his bass (or tenor bass) and voice, with no overdubs—now newly remastered and with three bonus tracks. Given the technique leaps we’ve since become accustomed to from Victor and his slapping spawn, what stands out this time around is his music and his message. Take, for example, the subtle theme and development in the chordal ballads “The Vision” and Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” Then there’s the Marcus/ Oteil-flavored jazz voicings and Rodney King-related rap on “Justice,” which sounds as fresh as if it were cut last week. And lest we forget the ambitious fingerboard marvels that were/are “Classical Thump” and “U Can’t Hold No Groove.”
The three bonus tracks include an enhanced version of “Groove,” with the addition of J.D. Blair’s drums and more bottom; “Flip Flop,” a medium funk meditation with more how-did-he-do-all-those-parts-atonce questions, plus Blair on drums; and the bluesy, over-12-minute “Live Solo #2,” taken from a 2003 performance and aided by a loop pedal. Fifteen years later, Victor has shown his hand and the message is the music comes first.