Wooten Woos Milton
by The Milton Measure on Friday, October 17th, 2014“I was destined to play the bass before I was even born,” said Victor Wooten during Sunday Chapel on October 5th, 2014. During the last week of September, Milton Academy had the pleasure of hosting Victor Wooten (bassist), Steve Bailey (bassist), and Derico Watson (drummer), who together form the group Bass Extremes. Supported by the Melissa Dilworth Gold Fund, Bass Extremes performed over the week during morning assemblies, hosted Sunday Chapel in King Theater, and met with and taught seven out of the eight jazz groups at our school.
According to Mr. Sinicrope of the Jazz Department, Victor Wooten was incredibly impressed by the students’ playing as well as the thorough and advanced jazz courses that Milton offers. Victor mainly stressed rhythm and stage performance rather than note precision, saying that “nobody ever grooved to the note C.” He also emphasized the importance of a musician’s making sure his audience is having a good time.
Victor Wooten was the youngest of five brothers who formed a band together. The band didn’t have a bass player, so, before Victor was even born, his brothers decided that he was destined play the bass. With the band, Victor started touring at 6 years old, opening shows for the soul artist Curtis Mayfield. “A remarkable thing about Victor is that he learned the bass like people learn their first language,” says Mr. Sinicrope. When babies are born, they don’t learn their first language by translating vocabulary words into another language; they learn by absorbing and eventually becoming a part of the language. Victor did the same with the bass.
During his speech at Chapel, Victor shared that the secret to success is the same as the secret to failure. “The secret is what we do every day; it is our daily habit,” said Victor. He highlighted this point by sharing a true story about the Oregon Ducks, who claimed their first undefeated collegiate football season in 1916 by training under a coach who believed that big victories could be achieved only by small, daily successes. The theory of both the coach and Victor was also hinted at by Emily Dickinson’s famous line, “forever is composed of nows.” The idea stresses the importance of winning the day, even the little conquests such as making one’s bed in the morning or cleaning one’s room.
Victor Wooten currently runs workshops during the summer at Wooten Woods, a camp and retreat center that takes place in a rural place in Tennessee, while Steve Bailey is currently the Department Chair of the Berklee College of Music.
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