While the concept of the "guitar hero" arguably started in the '60s, when Londoners first deified Eric Clapton, the emergence of a comparable breed of bass heroes took another decade. Building on the groundwork laid in the 1970s by Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius and Bootsy Collins, electric bassist Victor Wooten
is a master technician and a favorite of today's chops-obsessed fanboys who hang on his every slap, crack and pop. Best known as a member of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Wooten has used the band's yearlong hiatus to release and tour behind Soul Circus
, his fifth solo album. Although funk remains the dominant flavor, Wooten also incorporates straight-ahead rock and smooth jazz into Soul
's mix. And though the material may occasionally fall flat, Wooten's engaging personality and prodigious skills on the bass are sufficient to keep the air-bass contingent happily thumping away.