How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Unique among contemporary music ensembles, Béla Fleck's dynamic trio works wonders in live performance. Their large audience at the Quick Center For The Arts in Fairfield, Connecticut knew they were witnessing a one-of-a-kind affair. Clapping on 2 and 4 while Victor Lemonte Wooten improvised over "Amazing Grace," they felt all the power coming from that stage. Fleck and his partners managed to overcome multiple travel and itinerary conflicts to get this cast of characters together. To a simple bluegrass ballad such as "Big Country," add the timbres of steel pans, saxophone and bassoon to Fleck's banjo, Wooten's bass and Future Man's percussion. What you get is an exciting collage that fuses stellar musicianship with swinging jazz and beyond. Acoustic and electronic sounds intermingle. Traditional elements lie down beside contemporary, whacka-whacka-doo musical effects. Tuvan throat singer Congar ol'Ondar sits in for several numbers, as does tabla virtuoso Sandip Burma. Fuse their unique timbres with Future Man's hip-hop singing on "A Moment So Close," and you have a melting pot of cultures. Largely European, Fleck's compositions characteristically favor reels, horas, tarantellas and similar dance movements. For this session he added far-away and far-out items to his bag of surprises. Ending with an octet performance of Aaron Copeland's "Hoedown," Fleck reminds the audience where his central focus shall remain while he continues to open up to a wide world of disparate cultures.
Track Listing: That Old Thing (Intro); Earth Jam; Zona Mona; Ovombo Summit; Hall of Mirrors; Scratch & Sniff; Improv/Amazing Grace; Big Country; Lover's Leap; Alash Khem (Alash River Song); A Moment So Close; Improv/Prelude from Bach violin partita #3; Hoedown.