Bela Fleck & the Flecktones,
Outbound
(Columbia, 2000)

Listen to Bela Fleck & the Flecktones much and you will be convinced that the banjo is the future of music. Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say the Fleck & Co. are the future of the banjo.

While the mere sight of this instrument can summon the quick runs of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," Fleck and his cohorts use it as the linchpin in a project that is post-bluegrass banjo jazz. Equally important in this forward-thinking mix is the synthesizing "Futureman" Roy Wooten and his bizarre bass-percussion creations.

Numerous guests (including Adrian Belew on guitar, Andy Narell on steel drums and John Medeski on organ) serve to make this album one of the most sonically rich of the Flecktone discography. There is pennywhistle, numerous horns, a string quartet, steel pans and Tuvan throat-singing courtesy of Ondar (Huun Huur Tu). All this works on Outbound.

The album is a rich, cornucopia of sounds ranging from lightening banjo riffs to funk rock to dulcet pop vocals by Rita Sahai.

- Rambles
written by Tom Schulte
published 22 February 2003



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