Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Béla Fleck and the Original Flecktones (a reunion that’s kind of a big deal) Thursday, November 10th at 8PM the Calvin Theatre in Northampton

Béla Fleck is one of the world’s most pioneering and premiere banjo players, and the only musician to ever be nominated for Grammys in jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, spoken word, Christian, composition and world music categories. Performing with the original Flecktones, Béla Fleck combines music from multiple genres—from classical and jazz, to bluegrass and African music, to electric blues and Eastern European folk dances—making it one astounding concert experience.


Béla Fleck is an incredible virtuoso on the banjo. If all he had ever done was play banjo in a traditional bluegrass band, he would still be renowned as the finest banjo player ever but as an artist, he also took bluegrass and infused it with a modern style that redefined the genre—and even that was not enough for him. Refusing to be pigeonholed, he continued his boundary-breaking exploration by taking the banjo to modern jazz, classical and African music. His curiosity and artistry know no bounds.

Béla Fleck and the original Flecktones come to Northampton as part of their limited North American tour, celebrating the release of their new album “Rocket Science.” “Rocket Science” marks the first recording by the first fab four Flecktones in almost two decades, with pianist/harmonica player Howard Levy back in the fold alongside Fleck, bassist Victor Wooten and percussionist/drumitarist Roy “Futureman” Wooten. Far from being a wistful trip back in time, the album sees the Grammy Award-winning quartet creating some of the most forward thinking music of their long, storied career.

Béla Fleck started playing the banjo when he was 15 years old. His interest sparked when he heard the bluegrass music of Flatt & Scruggs. While still in high school, he began experimenting with playing bebop jazz on his banjo, mentored by fellow banjo renegade Tony Trischka. Not long after, he released his first solo album, entitled “Crossing the Tracks.” Since then he has released more than 40 in-studio and live performance albums.

Fleck first united the Flecktones in 1988, presumably for a single performance on PBS’s “Lonesome Pine Special.” From the start, there was a special kinship between the four musicians, a bond forged in a mutual passion for creativity and artistic advancement. Three breakthrough albums and a whole lot of live dates followed before Levy decided to move on in late 1992.

Visionary and vibrant as anything in their already rich canon, “Rocket Science” feels more like a new beginning than simply the culmination of an early chapter. Where the band goes from here remains undetermined, but all four members agree that the promise of Béla Fleck & the Original Flecktones has yet to be fulfilled.

One of the wonderful things about a Béla Fleck concert is that you never know exactly what to expect. That's what makes them so exciting. But two things are guaranteed: that there will be some incredible music-making and that a good time will be had by all. 

Tickets for Béla Fleck and the Original Flecktones on Thursday, November 10th at 8PM the Calvin Theatre in Northampton are available at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street. 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com

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