Inaugural Festival Brings "Pure" Jazz and Blues, Grammy Talent to Sunset Cove Amphitheater

Victor Wooten
Victor Wooten
Courtesy of Victor Wooten

"I believe there is a big need for a really pure jazz and blues festival in Florida," says Patrick Maraist, owner of Music Jam Productions and organizer of the inaugural Florida Jazz and Blues Jam. "This is something I plan to grow over several years and make it into a destination place for people who love jazz and blues."

You can count 13 Grammys onstage Saturday, says Maraist, including Buddy Guy, who just claimed his seventh for Best Blues Album of the Year, and John Mayall, who this month will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis.

"Even if you aren't familiar with these musicians, you should come and get a taste of it, because this is the bedrock of what has become popular music now, and these are the best legends of jazz and blues," he says. "These guys have been playing since the '60s, and they are still winning awards."

Bass guitarist Victor Wooten, known as the "bass guru," released his first solo, almost entirely slap-style bass record, Show of Hands, in 1996. He's well known for touring with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and has won five Grammys and earned the title of Best Bass Player from Rolling Stone.

Though he's famous for his solo bass records, at the festival, Wooten will play with Carlos Santana collaborator and drummer Dennis Chambers, as well as saxophone player Bob Franceschini and bassist Anthony Wellington. Their set will include old classics, new unrecorded tracks, and a few covers — including a tribute to Prince.

Victor Wooten: "I just like to remind people about the good things more."EXPAND
Victor Wooten: "I just like to remind people about the good things more."
Courtesy of Victor Wooten

Often incorporating social and political messages into his music, Wooten maintains a positive worldview. "There's always more good things going on than bad things," he says. "I just like to remind people about the good things more. We have to remind ourselves not to fall into the trap of magnifying the little bit of negative that's going on in the world. So I remind people to look at the whole picture, and once you do that, you realize this is a beautiful place and you're surrounded by beautiful people."

Blues music "came out of necessity," Wooten says. "Blues and jazz are very powerful styles of music that usually have strong messages, even when they are instrumental... I believe that any musician who plays for any length of time and wants to go deeper into their music will definitely dabble with jazz and blues."

Wooten also believes in the healing power of nature. After reading the books of Tom Brown Jr. and spending time with him, he created Victor Wooten's Center for Music and Nature. Based in Tennessee, it teaches aspiring artists how to develop self-confidence and skills by studying in a peaceful, natural environment. Wooten also wrote his own book, The Music Lesson, which outlines his teaching methods and has been used by universities across the nation.

"Nature is our biggest teacher," Wooten says. "It causes everyone to relax and allow their gifts to come through. It's about playing music your way, not my way."

Florida Jazz and Blues Jam

With Buddy Guy, Victor Wooten, John Mayall, and others. 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, 20405 Amphitheater Circle, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $77.87 to $88.12. Visit www.musicjamproductions.com.

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