As a founding member of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, bassist Victor Wooten played an important role in some of the most adventurous and satisfying pop-jazz of the '90s. On his solo albums, however, Wooten has opted for a far more conventional brand of fusion and smooth-jazz. His third solo release, "Yin-Yang," showcases Wooten's remarkable bass-playing skills but does so within settings so generic that the impact is lost.
Wooten multitracks his bass as many as eight times on each number, allowing himself to play not only the conventional rhythm line but the lead-melody and harmony lines as well. He executes this challenge superbly but the lines themselves are of minimal interest. The album's two best tunes, "Zenergy" and "What Crime Is It?" are dominated by guest co-writers and performers, Bela Fleck and Bootsy Collins, respectively. More typical is Kirk Whalum's "safe sax" on "The Urban Turban."
"Yin-Yang" is a two-CD set, which is at least one CD too many. The forays into funk, hip-hop and R&B seem more like exercises than inspirations. The bassist's infant daughter babbles on several tracks, and there are appearances by various other members of the extended Wooten family (though, curiously, not by Flecktone Roy "Futureman" Wooten).
Appearing Sunday at the Birchmere.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Victor Wooten, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8111. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)