A Sneak Peek Into Greatness

Ten From Little Worlds (Columbia)
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

By Larry Alexander

When I started to listen to this CD the first thing that came to my mind was an old MASH episode. Hawkeye was trying to teach Radar how to impress this intelligent nurse. The nurse happened to like classical music and Radar knew less than nothing about it. Hawkeye told him to always react in the same way to any discussion about classical music by saying, "Ah, Bach."

My reaction to this CD is "Ah, Fleck." I am and have always been a Bela fan and have seen him in the bluegrass and jazz venue. I continue to be astounded by his talent and the talent of his Flecktones. Victor Wooten can play the bass like no other. While he is always best in person, he is totally jammin' on this CD, which is sort of a sampler of his three-disc set, Little Worlds.

In addition, percussionist Future Man makes it all happen on this CD, while Jeff Coffin is a virtuoso on the sax, flute and keyboards. Others like Sam Bush, Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis, Sara and Sean Watkins and Chris Thile only add to the beauty, depth and, at times, comedy of the CD. Divinity stylizes the vocals of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" to perfection. "Clampett" alone is worth the price of the CD.

"Pineapple Heart" is somewhat melancholy, almost hypnotic. "Snatchin'" is written by the sax man and as such is very saxy. "Next" is just too cool with an eclectic mix, adding in Congar Ol Ondar, the throat singer. "The Leaning Tower" is a lilting Irish tune written by Fleck with some interesting twists and turns. "Puffy" is pretty classic Flecktones with the strong influence of Victor Wooten and beautifully performed. "Sherpa" is another saxy tune with a Mideastern sound written by Coffin. "Off the Top" highlights Thile, Watkins and Fleck in a more classic newgrass jazz. This CD drips with pure artistry.

All I can say is it is another winner with a very interesting mix of tunes. The only thing that would make it better is a live performance with each artist being allowed "star time."

Ah, Fleck.