Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

197

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

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
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.



This two-hour performance, recorded on-stage by Jon Ice in Lexington, Kentucky on April 6, 2004, is a 168.2 megabyte MP3 download from www.archive.org/audio . The recording quality is decent overall and better than many other Flecktones downloads, although the mix is a bit bottom-heavy and light on treble. Nobody is lost in the mix, but there also isn't a great deal of sparkle to brighter instruments such as Fleck's banjo and Jeff Coffin's sax. Overall it's a shade inside my comfort margin for background music if company is over.



The group plays a few familiar hits to open and close the show—although their landmark song "The Sinister Minister" is nowhere in sight—but there aren't any big moments of energy or creative solo inspiration found among them. The real highlights are a number of extended lower-key originals showcasing various players in solo or minimally accompanied settings.



Bassist Victor Wooten displays a depth seldom heard commercially on a fourteen-minute solo track where he progresses from soothing ballad to blues to free jazz to all-out slap bass rock insanity (too far, perhaps), providing his own percussion and harmonics along the way. He and Coffin also provide a less artistic, but more fun, bit of upbeat R&B interplay on the seven-minute "Vic/Jeff."

Also noteworthy is the always crowd-pleasing Future Man, who gets several chances to hammer out lengthy percussion solos on his Synthaxe Drumitar in styles not heard on any of the commercial Flecktones CDs. His romps on the novel guitar-like instrument prove he is a player of considerable talent in addition to an audience favorite—even if one really needs to see him to fully appreciate the full effect.



Fleck's playing is seldom less than masterful and that is generally the case here, but there are few attention-getting moments due partially to him consistently being too far back in the mix. He is best heard near the end of the concert on a series of short solo tunes by fiddling legend John Hartford, which are pleasing but don't linger in the mind like the evening's best moments.



This isn't a bad introduction to the Flecktones for new listeners, although the group's self-titled debut or the two-disc Live Art concert album are much better representations. Fans familiar with their work will almost certainly find this worthwhile, if not a favorite, to capture some of Fleck's sidemen showing a bit more depth than usual.




Personnel: Bela Fleck, banjo; Victor Wooten, bass; Jeff Coffin, sax; Future Man, Synthaxe Drumitar.

Tracks: Intro; Next; Sex; Latitude; Band Introductions; Bill Mon; Futch Solo; Futch/Bela; Off The Top; Something; Vice Solo; Vic/Jeff; Sleeper; Am Latin; Bela Solo; Moment So Close.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Download Reviews
The Monterey Jazz Festival 2008 Music Sampler
By Tod Smith
December 27, 2008
Download Reviews
Oscar Peterson Tribute: Simply The Best
By Mark Sabbatini
January 17, 2008
Download Reviews
John Ellis Quartet: Live At Yoshi's - July 18, 2005
By Mark Sabbatini
June 15, 2006
Download Reviews
Free "Professor of Sax" Collection Merits a Gold Star
By Mark Sabbatini
May 10, 2006