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Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

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Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (Section 1)

Earth Jam

The set starts out with every member of the band coming out on stage one at a time. Some of the instruments I recognized and was familiar with, such as the saxophone, clarinet, bass, and drums. They introduced a variety of instruments that looked either homemade or sounded strange to me, like the electric banjo, drumitar, and synthesizers. There was a bit of scat vocals done by Victor Wooten as well. One thing I noticed in this song was the repetition. I think the bass line was constant throughout the entire four minute long song. The set looked very non-Western to me, especially the rugs that were laid down in the middle of the stage. Almost the entire song had a mixed meter and it reminded me of Dave Matthews.

My first impression of the song was a pleasant one. I really liked the sound because it was catchy and upbeat but still relaxing at the same time. I was under the impression that the banjo was supposed to represent a guitar that would normally be the lead instrument in a Western band. Bela Fleck had a really cool wah-wah effect on his banjo that really added to the texture of the song. One thing I didn’t really care for was the cheesy, almost expected, designation of a solo time. Each one took there solos at a specific point in the song. I think I would categorize this song in the retro jazzy funk genre.

Lover’s Leap

This song had basically the same instrumentation as Earth Jam with the introduction of a few new instruments. Those instruments were the steel drums and the English horn. I felt like this song was heavily influenced by Jamaican reggae because of the way the steel drums sounded with the other instruments. I noticed some call and response in this song with the steel drums and banjo and also with the English horn and the banjo. One western thing I heard in this song was the harmony, which kind of goes hand in hand with the heterophonic texture throughout the song.

This song was dramatic. It painted a picture in my head of a Jamaican going through various hard times in his life almost like a monologue you would see in a movie. Again I noticed that the banjo was the center of attention. I would categorize this song in the classical reggae genre.

Zona Mona

The new instruments introduced in this song are the fretless bass and a soprano saxophone. I remember the banjo in this song sounding very similar to a bluegrass song I would hear in a country western song. Then all these African polyrhythms chime in and make for an interesting combination. The entire band seemed to improvise the entire song and sound good together, without the use of sheet music. The heterophonic texture and the polyrhythms made this song sound African. It reminded me of an exotic animal running through a jungle chasing after something. I would put this song into an African bluegrass genre.

Ovombo Summit

In this song, Future man plays a homemade recording device that has African chants on each button. He then begins looping them over each other while playing a very cool polyrhythm underneath it to add to the effect. Other instruments include the use of brushes to get a jazzy sound, bells of some kind, and a tambourine. I think this was one my favorite songs by Bela Fleck. I really enjoyed the use of polyrhythms in this song and the upbeat African chants from the children looping through the entire song. I would classify this song in the Africazz category (African-Jazz).

Hall of Mirrors

In this song, Bela Fleck introduces the tabla played by Sandip Burman. The song also has soprano sax and bassoon along with the usual instruments. There was a definite Indian sound with a hint of Asian thrown into the mix as well. The banjo sounded very similar to a sitar and had many call and response parts with the tabla. I also noticed a mixed meter that was not uncommon in relativity to the rest of their songs. I really felt like I was in an Indian environment the music reminded me of the Hindustani genre of music in India. During the chorus, it did sound a bit Japanese or at least had a hint of Asian culture engrained somewhere in the instrumentation. Maybe they were using the Japanese scales or something. The chorus could be used as a theme song on a Japanese game show or something. I really liked this song as well. I would classify this song as Hindunese music (Hindustani-Japanese).

Scratch and Sniff

This song has one of my favorite aspects of funk music in it, the slap bass. It sounded really cool with the wah-wah effect on the sax and the slap bass line behind it. The steel drums, tabla, and bassoon were involved

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