Béla Fleck & the Flecktones (the original lineup): live at the National Concert Hall Dublin, Tuesday 17 Jan. 2012
Ground-breaking banjoist/composer/bandleader Béla Fleck has reconvened the original Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, the extraordinary initial lineup of his incredible combo.
Their new album 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. While all manners of genres come into play – from classical and jazz to bluegrass and African music to electric blues and Eastern European folk dances – the result is a sound all their own, a meeting of musical minds that remains, as ever, utterly indescribable. Simply put, it is The Flecktones, the music made only when these four individuals come together. 'All the different things I do come together to make a new ‘hybrid’', Béla Fleck says. 'Everybody else in the group is doing the same things, collaborating with different people, and pursuing a wide variety of ideas, so when we come together and put all of our separate soups into one big stockpot it turns into a very diverse concoction.'
Fleck first united the Flecktones in 1988, ostensibly for a single performance on PBS’ 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. Béla Fleck & the Flecktones persevered, playing as a trio and with many special guests, before saxophonist Jeff Coffin joined the ensemble. A succession of acclaimed albums and innumerable live performances continued to earn the band a fervent fan following around the world, not to mention five Grammy awards in a range of categories. By 2008, the band had grown somewhat restive and embarked on a temporary hiatus. Each member had been quite busy with a variety of successful projects – but still, Flecktones music was beckoning them home. The band, which had always maintained a warm relationship with the gifted pianist/harmonica player, recruited Levy for a 2009 tour of the US and Europe, an experience he describes as 'extremely invigorating and very energising'. 'There’s a special thing that happens when the four of us get together and play', notes Levy. 'We all have the same attitude of trying to do things that we haven’t done before and coincidentally, no one else has either'. One thing was certain, however. The 'original' Flecktones were resolute that their reunion would not be rooted in nostalgia. The goal from the get-go was to drive the music forward to places where it might’ve progressed had things gone differently.
For many Flecktones fans, the return of the original lineup allows a chance to see a band that many had never gotten to witness before. The group are only playing three shows on this side of the world. The first show will be the National Concert Hall in Dublin on Tuesday 17 January, then the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow on 19 January. The Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel on 21 January is the last stop before the band return to the United States to continue their extensive tour.
Tickets are priced €35/€20 for students with no booking fee and will go on sale on Friday 21 October through the National Concert Hall Box Office from 10.00 a.m.-6.00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01 417 0000, fax 01 475 1507, and online or by e-mail.
For more information please contact Jenny @ Entertainment Architects on +353 1 905 6384; e-mail.