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World Music CD Reviews North American

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

By Robert Kaye
Published December 15, 2006

The Hidden Land
Columbia

Banjo maestro Béla Fleck and his equally adept Flecktones are masters at incorporating any number of influences into their own eclectic, challenging yet accessible compositions. On The Hidden Land, one can hear Celtic, South African, East Indian, and baroque elements, Tuvan throat singing, bluegrass, swing, funk and more. That doesn’t necessarily make it a “world music” album per se, but does explain how this talented quartet keeps creating superlative modern jazz. Now going on 15 years strong, the redoubtable Flecktones have firmly established themselves individually as masterful instrumentalists and also as a well-integrated ensemble that continually reinvents itself. The Hidden Land was written and recorded in only a few months if not weeks, as the band was on sabbatical throughout most of 2005. That it was composed and performed in such a short time period makes much of the music here that much more remarkable. To reiterate, this isn’t by any stretch of the imagination, a pure world music album. But it is further testament that the ever-talented Flecktones are able to incorporate most any genre from anywhere on the planet, and make it their own.