“Anything done well works.” Never before have all
the mysteries of music been unraveled in such a simple statement.
This is what legendary bassist Victor Wooten had to say of his band
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones’ combination of bluegrass,
jazz and pretty much everything else. Their latest studio album
Little Worlds is a three-disc monstrosity, ensuring that
nothing, including an abundance of guest artists, is left out. The
Flecktones are supporting the album on tour, which includes a
sold-out stop at the Power Center on Friday. The Michigan Daily
recently spoke to Victor Wooten about his role in the band.
The Michigan Daily: Why does the fusion of funk and
bluegrass work so well?
Victor Wooten: Look at it like people. There are a lot of
people that say that a white person shouldn’t date a black
person. But, when you do it, if the people are compatible, it
works. Music’s the same way. Whether you’re talking
about bluegrass, jazz, funk, anything, you’re talking about the
same 12 notes. So, how you put them together is up to you, but if
you put them together in a way that works, it works.
You can use the same analogy with cooking. You can blend the
weirdest ingredients together, but done right it tastes great.
TMD: The Flecktones have fluctuated between a quartet and
a trio. Is there ever a time where you decided that you needed a
certain element in the mix?
VW: When (harmonica player Howard Levy) left, we were a
trio for quite a while, and we did miss that melodic instrument
that could play those melodies over the top, but now we have it
again with Jeff Coffin playing the saxophone.
TMD: Is there anything in particular that he adds to the
VW: He’s really good at that straight-ahead jazz.
Jeff has a very powerful, rhythmic sound and that definitely
changes the band. It’s like adding a new person to your
TMD: How was it to grow up with a family full of
VW: The reason you speak English so well is because you
grew up with people who did it also. For me, music was the same
way, because my brothers were always playing. It came easy. We
never really had to work at it, we just did it all the time.
TMD: How can someone find out more information about jazz
music and the Flecktones?
VW: A lot of people that go to your website want to know
something about you, so I give people that opportunity. But I also
want people to learn about themselves, so I try to put things in
there that might inspire them. There are words of wisdom and
lessons on how to play music, all sorts of things.
TMD: Is there an overarching goal you seek with your
VW: I just realized that everything’s related:
everything and everybody. A table, a guitar, water, it all comes
down to molecules. What I ask is “How is everything different
if it’s all the same?” I just like to show those
similarities and how everything works.