b. Victor Randall Bailey, 27 March 1960, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Bailey was raised in a very musical atmosphere. His father, Morris Bailey, wrote pop songs in the 60s and 70s for artists such as Patti LaBelle and the Stylistics, and his uncle, Donald Bailey, played drums with Jimmy Smith’s trio. Victor began playing piano at the age of seven, switching to drums three years later, before settling on the electric bass guitar at the start of his teens. He played in local R&B and funk bands before moving to New York at the end of his teenage years. He was especially aware of the developments being made in jazz bass playing by Jaco Pastorius and within a year of his arrival in the city, Bailey’s reputation as a bass player was such that he was hired to replace his idol in Weather Report. From this point onwards, Bailey’s name was known worldwide and his reputation was high in various musical fields. This was doubtless helped by his eclecticism because he did not restrict himself to playing in jazz fusion bands. Instead, he played and recorded with a wide range of artists from the worlds of jazz, R&B, hip-hop and pop, among them Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Grover Washington Jnr. , Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, Mary J. Blige and Madonna.
In the late 80s Bailey recorded a solo bass album that was rapturously received by the critics. Fans liked it, too, and it achieved number 1 in Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz charts. Nevertheless, it was to be over 10 years before he again led a date. In the meantime, however, he appeared on scores of CDs, played countless live gigs, and also extended his activities into writing music and producing recording dates. In performance, Bailey’s playing consistently demonstrates his musical skills and intelligence, whether he is working funky grooves in collaboration with long-time associate drummer Dennis Chambers, or finding plangent lyricism in a tribute to Pastorius on ‘Continuum’, featured on 1999’s Low Blow. Much admired by his bass playing peers, Bailey’s ability to appeal to the general audience is remarkable. At the end of the 90s, he joined former Weather Report partner, Joe Zawinul in the Syndicate and worked with artists such as Kenny Garrett and saxophonist Bill Evans, both of who appeared on his second album as leader.