An Evening with Victor Wooten Trio tonight in Reno

Tahoe Onstage

Victor Wooten graces the Cargo Concert Hall with thumping, two-hour performance.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Editor’s note: Below is a review of the Victor Wooten Trio’s 2017 performance.

“Are there any bass players in the house tonight?”  The question rang through a packed and anticipatory Cargo Concert Hall in downtown Reno Wednesday night.  The collective sarcastic laughter and smiles provided the answer for anyone lacking a command of the obvious.  For on this one night, Reno was about to become basshead ground zero.

Victor Wooten, the only man to have been voted Bass Player of the Year three times by Bass Player Magazine and named as a Top Ten Bassist of All Time by Rolling Stone, graced the Cargo stage in support of his first record in five years “TRYPNOTYX.”  Joining Wooten to complete a dynamic and talented trio were Bob Franceschini (saxophone, clarinet, flute) and drummer extraordinaire Dennis Chambers. The Victor Wooten Trio expertly crafted their voices together for two hours of master class musical collaboration.

Tahoe OnstageThe evening’s third selection “Quimbara” was a template for how compositions were regularly presented. Beginning with some ethereal, airy saxophone from Franceschini. Chambers then joined to bring up the tempo, playing the multiple triplet flavored style of Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews band) who originally recorded the tune with Wooten. Franceschini’s voice went mute in the middle, allowing Chambers and Wooten to engage in a call and answer with the drummer providing a myriad of separate time-keeping riffs for Wooten to call back with his bass in between. The replies included a “Mission Impossible” theme and the classic bass line from The Commodores “Brick House,” to which the crowd immediately sang, unprompted, the last verse complete with the “Shake it down, shake it down, shake it down now” groove as Wooten’s smile stretched clear across the stage.

From there the set became progressively more adventurous, stretching traditional composition styles with Wooten often beginning things playing solo bass riffs differing in tone and texture and looping them together, section by section, in a recorded track. Chambers and Franceschini would then join, together or separately, to play fresh parts over the top of Wooten’s blended cacophony. He also had a number of effects that he controlled with his feet, including a Hammond or church-style sounding organ and even pre-recorded hip call phrases like “give me that funky beat” and a “Come on Bobby” that coaxed his New York sax man into a solo. (The voice sounded like soul icon James Brown, but was actually recorded by comedian, actor, and renowned voice mimic Michael Winslow).

It was a treat for the senses watching the ease in which each presented his music with equal parts precision and grace. Each artist was featured multiple times displaying his unique and well-honed talents. The performance was further enhanced through a sound mix devoid of any hum or buzz, allowing the audience to enjoy every precise horn, bass and drum note no matter how delicate.

Three polished and diverse players, carefully listening to one another before inserting their voices, created a beautiful evening of conversation for a knowledgeable crowd that hung on every word.

-Michael Smyth

  • Victor Wooten Trio
    Cargo Concert Hall
    Oct. 4, 2017
    Rice and Beans
    My Life
    13th Floor
    Funky D

    Tahoe Onstage

    Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

    Victor Wooten and Bob Franceschini in Reno onstage.

    Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

    Dennis Chambers is a monster on drums.

    Tahoe Onstage

About Michael Smyth

Michael Smyth moved to Reno in 2007 after living more than 40 years in the Bay Area. In addition to going to live shows, he enjoys golf, skiing and fly-fishing. Check out his website

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