I’ve seen Bela Fleck and the Flecktones six times now, and they never cease to amaze and excite me with their sheer talent and uncanny ability to work together onstage and create a rich and vibrant sound.

Before I get into the actual review of the show, let me inform those of you who are not familiar with the Flecktones of the actual instrumentation of the four amazing performers who make up this group.

First of all, there is Bela Fleck on the banjo, Jeff Coffin on saxophone, flute and clarinet, Futureman/RoyEl on the SynthAxeDrumitar and Victor Wooten on bass guitar.

Every one of these guys is an absolutely phenomenal musician, and each plays their instrument as if it were an extension of their hands.

Their excitement and sheer musical delight shows in every note that is played and chord plucked. OK, enough about the musicians and more about the music.

Around 8:15 p.m., the house lights go down and the band begins to play their unique blend of blues, country, jazz and classical all improbably wrapped up into an improvisational wonder.

Yes, I did say improvisational, and no these guys are not your typical “jam band.”

When I say improvisational, I mean improvisation in the way that a great jazz combo is improvisational ? in the way that they all work together to produce a coherent sound while at the same time allowing each of the musicians to find his own way in the music. The Flecktones are this type of band.

The entire concert was a phenomenal experience. The lighting and backgrounds for each song set were unbelievably well conceived, and seemed to perfectly match the mood the Flecktones tried to establish.

The band had a palpable connection to the audience ? a group with a wide range of ages, including lots of parents.

They did this mostly through making jokes about the weather and continuously stating how happy they were to be back in Buffalo.

A few concert goers were so inspired that they started dancing in the aisles.

My one regret is that I didn’t know many of the names of the songs that they played due to the fact they tried out a lot of new music from their upcoming, and unreleased, album.

As I said, the entire show was amazing, but the most amazing part of the night came when Victor Wooten was left alone on stage with his bass guitar.

When Wooten opened into what would be a twenty minute bass solo, everyone in the theatre knew that they were in for a treat.

The only way that I can describe what this man does on the bass is that he plays it like one would play a piano ? with both of his hands working separately and on different parts of the instrument.

At the same time he works in perfect synchronization so as to create a truly unique sound.

During his time on stage, Wooten incorporated elements of classical, funk and soul to literally make the crowd jump to its feet when he finished his improvisational masterpiece. I don’t know of anyone else who can play improv. Then the Continued from Page 15

Beatles, and then launch into Amazing Grace with more ease and style. The man is truly a musical genius.

Yet another such moment of musical delight came in a similar fashion when Bela got his turn to be alone on stage.

Coming off of the recent high of winning two Grammy’s for Best Classical Crossover Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement for his work on Perpetual Motion, Bela was primed to deliver a great performance. And did he ever.

Bela is one of those rare musicians who can cross genres and musical styles to create a blend of the old and new in a wonderful way. All I can say is that if you’ve never heard Bach played on the six-string banjo, you’re really missing out.

During his solo performance, Bela not only played Bach, but a wide range of styles ranging from bluegrass to blues.

Just as we did when Wooten finished his solo, we launched to our feet and responded with a hail of sustained applause to show our appreciation to this gifted musician.

At the end of the concert, the Flecktones played two spectacular encores. The first one can only be described as the greatest variation on Copeland’s Hoedown that I’ve ever heard.

The second was Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, a Flecktones standard. That one included the audience “Ooh-ing” and “Ah-ing” and snapping their fingers with beat. The crowd went wild with the opportunity to make noise with remarkable artists.

Each time that I see Bela Fleck and the Flecktones perform, they seem to get better and better and find new ways to amaze and delight me.

While I have spent a lot of time speaking about just two of the four members of this band, I can’t emphasize strongly enough how truly talented and gifted Jeff Coffin and FutureMan are.

Individually, these guys are great musicians, but when you put them all together on stage, they become something else and something wonderful.

Additional reporting by Susana Schroeder.Schneider can be reached at dschneider@campustimes.org.



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