Bassist Spotlight #2: Victor Wooten

15 04 2010

Ah, Vic. I was lucky enough to see Mr. Wooten live in concert while he was touring solo a few years back. At the time, I was still a novice bassist, and seeing the things he could do with his bass absolutely inspired me to go home and see if I could (eventually) do the same.

Vic is known for his non-conventional slap-style playing, and he usually sticks to his own mixture of funk and jazz. I have never seen a bassist with so much control over the fretboard: He moves up and down it like nobody’s business, and just when you think, “Okay. He’s got to play a wrong note sometime,” he launches into another amazing, heartfelt riff.

Here is a video that gives a lot of insight into the non-traditional way that Vic views playing bass. I apologize that it’s somewhat of an advertisement for his DVD (which is wholly worth buying if you dig his style), but pay attention to what he’s saying, it’s pretty interesting.

He’s also one of the most chill, down-to-earth musicians out there, even though he’s played with the likes of Bela Fleck (he was the bassist for The Flecktones: watch the video below) and many other uber-famous people. Check him out, he will not disappoint!

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Bassist Spotlight #1: Les Claypool

31 03 2010

Every now and again I’m going to highlight a famous (or not so famous) bassist that I think deserves a bit of recognition.

To begin this series, I’ve chosen one of my all-time favorite bass players, the eclectic and innovative Les Claypool.

Although he’s most famous for his work with his metal-funk band Primus, Claypool has worked with many super-famous musicians throughout his career, including Trey Anastasio, Stewart Copeland, Buckethead, Bernie Worrell and many others.

Les Claypool’s style is unique: He often utilizes very simplified riffs, with a lot of slap-and-pop techniques and heavy thumb work. He’s best known for his low-down-and-dirty licks with heavy rythmic patterns, dissonant chords, harmonics, tapping…you name it.

Here’s a video of one of his most famous solos, “The Awakening”:

Les is also famous for often performing in rather odd attire, most notably his monkey and pig costumes. Here is a video of him playing a bass he invented (called the “Whamola”) while wearing his monkey outfit. The Whamola only has one string, and Les plays it with a drumstick (sorry for the video quality; this footage shows a wide range of the sounds he can get out of this instrument, though):

Needless to say, Les Claypool is pretty damn interesting. His willingness to break away from peoples’ perceptions of bass as a somewhat “limited” instrument, his talent, and his genuine love for playing bass are all qualities to admire.