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Bela Fleck and The Marcus Roberts Trio: Oakland, CA, August 31, 2012

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Béla Fleck and Marcus RobertsYoshi'sOakland, CAAugust 31, 2012Seeing banjoist Béla Fleck and pianist Marcus Roberts is like a roller coaster ride through new musical places. The two recently gave one of the most exciting shows in Yoshi's history, just in time to celebrate the well-known club's forty year anniversary.In four decades of Yoshi's, there has rarely, if ever, been anything quite like Fleck's performance with the Marcus Roberts Trio, in support of their first recording together, Across the Imaginary Divide (Rounder, 2012) performance. The banjo has not been significant part of any modern ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck & The Marcus Roberts Trio: Across The Imaginary Divide

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Across The Imaginary Divide, the collaboration between banjoist Béla Fleck and The Marcus Roberts Trio, is as adventurous as its title suggests. And the fruit of these four musicians' labor is as seamless as their approach is fearless.The opening moments of “Some Roads Lead Home" demonstrate that the modesty with which the foursome interacts does not belie their skills. There is no showboating, as Fleck's acoustic instrument gives way to pianist Roberts' and their fluidity carries over to the rhythm section of drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Rodney Jordan during “I'm Gonna Tell You This Story One More ...

INTERVIEWS

Bela Fleck (BEY-Lah Fleck): See Curious, Creative Mind

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Béla Fleck has taken his instrument--the banjo--to heights that seemed unimaginable prior to couple decades ago. There have been virtuoso players in its long history, but the sounds Fleck elicits through electronics, and the musical landscapes he treads upon, are groundbreaking.He's got all that in his pocket. But as a twenty-something musician whose prowess was gaining notoriety with the bluegrass crossover band New Grass Revival, Fleck still had his heart set on other things. He had a wider musical vision. He was listening to bands of the day like Return to Forever: “I'm one of those people to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck: Rocket Science

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The musicianship on Béla Fleck and The Flecktones' Rocket Science radiates a sense of play that was missing from the group's last recorded work The Hidden Land (Columbia, 2006). There's also a sense of adventure here that hasn't really been in evidence since Three Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Warner Bros, 1993), the first album recorded after the departure of original Flecktone Howard Levy. After an eighteen-year absence, Levy is back in the fold on this record and he reignites the chemistry of this personnel alignment, no small accomplishment, as he's changed and grown as musician and composer ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones: Rocket Science

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Béla Fleck & The Flecktones Rocket Science E One Music Group2011 Some say you can't go back, but that's not always true. Emerging from his formative years as a rising star in the blue/newgrass community, banjoist Béla Fleck lept onto a much bigger radar with the release of Béla Fleck & The Flecktones (Warner Bros., 1990), after forming the group in 1988. Stretching and, in some cases, breaking down the boundaries of jazz, bluegrass, classical music and much, much more, the group's debut and two subsequent releases--Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (1991) and ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart

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Béla FleckThrow Down Your Heart Docurama Films2009

With Throw Down Your Heart Rounder, 2009), banjo revolutionary Béla Fleck took his instrument full circle, back to Africa where the instrument originated. The third in his ongoing Tales from the Acoustic Planet series, it was the end result of a 2005, five-week trip to four African countries where Fleck met with local musicians, playing and exchanging ideas and values--musical and otherwise. While the CD provides nearly 80 minutes of absolutely compelling music--largely the result of jams rather than preplanned music--it only tells ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart

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An exemplary adventure in cross-cultural music making, banjoist Béla Fleck's Throw Down Your Heart deserves every bit of hyperbole that is going to be thrown at it. The third volume in Fleck's Tales From The Acoustic Planet series, it's subtitled “Africa Sessions" and finds him in East and West Africa, mostly on field recordings or in improvised studios, playing with musicians from Mali, Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon and Gambia. It's simply sublime.

Though the cast includes international stars--singers Oumou Sangare and Baaba Maal, kora player Toumani Diabate, n'goni player Bassekou Kouyate--most of the musicians are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chick Corea / Bela Fleck: The Enchantment

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It is not obvious that music is always musical. Formulaic repetition of past innovations quickly become recognizably trite and, to most ears, off-putting. The duo setting presses a brutal honesty between musicians that has historically not only kept curdled tendencies at bay but has also pushed forth innovation. Jazz musicians of the finest reputation, including guitarists Jim Hall, Joe Pass and Pat Metheny, and pianists Bill Evans and Brad Mehldau, have forged platinum grails of the jazz tradition in this setting. Pianist Chick Corea and banjoist Béla Fleck's The Enchantment is certainly no aberration.Like the most successful duo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones: The Hidden Land

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The Hidden Land, the first album of new material recorded in the wake of a year off the road, is the logical extension of the Flecktones' recent activities. It makes sense to go back to the basics and start afresh. Also, after the eclectic complexity and artful ambitions that produced the last Bela Fleck/Flecktones album (the three-CD set Little Worlds), there may have been little further afield to go, given the way the group married production and musicianship lavishly and intricately, retaining spontaneity at the heart of improvisation.

The Hidden Land opens with the band rendering two Bach pieces almost ...

DOWNLOAD REVIEWS

Bela Fleck And The Flecktones: Lexington, Kentucky / April 6, 2004

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Bela Fleck and the Flecktones Lexington, Kentucky / April 6, 2004 Live Music Archive 2004

Author's note: This is the first of what hopefully will be an ongoing series of reviews of legal free music downloads from various internet sources. This is one of several Bela Fleck concerts available at the Live Music Archive, which posts audience recordings of concerts by artists who allow such tapings.

Bela Fleck's music has grown more thoughtful over the years, and those moments highlight this concert with the banjo player's bluegrass-fusion group.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck and The Flecktones: Little Worlds/Ten From Little Worlds

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Little Worlds is a gorgeous package of three compact discs on which Bela Fleck and the Flecktones seamlessly interweave inspiration, creative spontaneity and judicious production.

The crystalline sound quality is just one of the constants deriving from collaboration between Bela himself and recordists Robert and Richard Battaglia: it’s a pleasure to listen to this music for the way it sounds alone. But that leads inevitably to the serendipity of the musicians’ improvisation on the respective tunes, a process which led to the expansion of the album’s original concept from a strict quartet endeavor to a free-for-all of guests. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones: Little Worlds

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This three-disc project puts Béla Fleck's music in a new light. His formidable blend of Americana and jazz is integrated with new sounds brought in by guest artists and their eclectic backgrounds. The banjo virtuoso, his multi-faceted woodwind partner, his profound bassist, and his rhythmic sidekick weave modern jazz around the flagpole with delicate airs and a variety of colors. No particular theme weighs the sessions down: cultures from all over the world are tied to Fleck's creative dreams.

From Bill Monroe and bluegrass, around the world and back to Harlem Nocturne, the Flecktones combine jazz with traditional ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones: Left of Cool

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Bela Fleck is one of the most innovative musicians in contemporary jazz: he has completely recast the role of the banjo in jazz. Honorary Flecktone Jeff Coffin joins the fold on Left Of Cool, a lengthy and intermittently absorbing CD. Coffin is a Nashville saxophonist who's far jazzier than Paul McCandless, the saxman who usually plays with the Fleckmen. Coffin is a nice addition to the band, though apparently it's a temporary arrangement. This is no landmark album, but many of its melodies will grow on you. I particularly like “Throwdown at the Hoedown," “Big Country," “Trane To Conamarra," and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bela Fleck & the Flecktones: Live Art

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This is a totally excellent album. Buy it! Regardless of whether you've never heard of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, or whether you are a long-time devotee, you'll find the music in this 2-CD live set to be unusually creative, diverse, and fresh. If you complain that so much of today's music sounds the same, you'll love this.

These performances were culled from hundreds of tapes made from live gigs from 1992 through 1996. The core unit is Bela Fleck on banjo, Victor Wooten on bass, and Future Man on the Synth-Axe Drumitar. There are some earlier recordings from when ...



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