Victor Wooten- Yin Yang
Some bass players preach that Larry Graham is the master of slap bass. Others say that no one can touch Marcus Miller. But I, along with many others, keep faith in Victor Wooten to produce clean, groovy vibes that borderline the two genres of funk and jazz. This 1999 double disk solo effort is nothing short of UBER funky, but manages to throw in some laid back, gritty jazz. This album has all the necessary ingredients for a bass players wet dream. In addition, this is a concept album reflecting moods, therefore, each disk will be bound to have a song that everyone loves. Yin shows the mellow, darker, and more laid back jazz vibe that puts the groove as the first priority. Yang is the bouncy, fun, funky, and playful, which is sure to catch attention. It’s not perfect though. Each album has something I can’t get into, but I like Yin more. Enough of this, let’s get to it.
Victor Wooten’s Yin Yang
Yin starts the album with some great jazz tunes, as well as a darker mood. But the album isn’t depressing by any means. Perhaps the epitome of the ’Yin’ feel is the track “Imagine This”. Sure the bass playing and drumming are great, nailing down sick polyrhythms, but the melody lies in the piano and alto saxophone, which trade off leads and licks that swirl around some great musicianship. This is the mood you’d expect from this disk.
Not all of Yin is laid back. “Hip Bop” is a perfect example. There are some jazzy elements in there, like an up-beat saxophone solo, and a ride-driven drum beat, but the slap lines are insane. It’s probably my favorite track on the album. The bass makes me feel inferior. It’ll be all dirty one second, and before you know it, the tempo jumps 100 beats into a pounding solo, and then leap into some upbeat rhythms. Trust me, all you bass players, after hearing this, you’ll wet yourself. I did ;) How this man pulls this off in the context of one song is anyone’s guess.
It’s not unlike me to say that not everything is as perfect as that song, though. The lack of vocals in some songs can get on my nerves, but the vocals on most songs are just plain cheesy. The ‘kaila’ tracks fit that description. I’m not a big fan of the two, but they do fit the bill. The rapping is not my cup of tea.
The “Yinnin and Yangin” tracks are also great examples. The instrumental version is great, featuring some great moves on Vic’s Fodera four-string. However, I actually like Yang’s vocal version better, even if the lyrics are cheese. Only goes to show that this album is not entirely predictable.
But for the most part, Yin is quite an enjoyable listen, and is easy to listen to as well. I know I did not cover all of the songs, but how many times can I say ‘good’ or ‘bad’" You’ll just have to find out for yourselves.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from Yin, is Yang and its powerhouse of “Hormones in the Headphones”. There isn’t a funkier track on the entire the album. It’s full of bouncy bass playing and articulate thumb work from Vic. The vocals are bubbly and fun, but are pretty cheesy. Sharp chetta cheesy. However, it doesn’t prevent you from enjoying the song. I love how he’ll just be doing the main, muted groove, and after the quiet words “Make it funky now” he’ll just toss in a solo that’ll make you numb. It’s almost like it’s nothing to him. It’s crazy.
Other great tunes include “Pretty Little Lady” which fit’s the bill of Yang. The rap/ R&B vocal trade offs are actually entertaining, as well as the periodic wah guitar sounds that pop up from time to time. But once again, the bass playing is phenomenal. He just hammers away, nailing fast grooves, slow grooves, and those ever present note-splattering solos. The guest rapper doesn’t show up too much except for the chorus, where he screams. “Yinnin and Yangin” as stated before is a monster, with synthesized sounds as well as some deep, funkalicious bass playing in front of some cool sounds. The vocals are nice, but the lyrics are cheesy. Ehh, just a minor price to pay. The groove doesn’t let you down throughout the whole song. At about the halfway mark, the drums come in. The tempo change marks a climax in the song, where the rapper comes in and the bass weaves in and out with some entertaining lines. Great song.
But the filler is ever present. I do not like Kaila Raps one bit. It’s too unorthodox for my taste, especially since it’s Victor Wooten that we’re talking about.
So, without further a due, I’d like to end my review with saying, no matter what you’re looking for in Vic’s music, whether it be funk, jazz, blues, it’s all rolled into this great double album. Whatever your mood, you’re bound to find something you like. Highly recommended.
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+ Great mood concept album
+ Jazz, funky, and bluesy
+ Bass work is orgasmic
+ Musicianship is great
- Vocals can be annoying
- Lyrics are processed, pasteurized, Grade A+ Cheese
Recommended Tracks: Hip Bop, Imagine This, Pretty Little Lady, Hormones in the Headphones
Overall Grade: 4/5