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Country - Released October 20, 2017 | New Rounder

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Country - Released November 22, 2019 | Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 2014 | New Rounder

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Jazz traditionnel & New Orleans - Released October 12, 2010 | Warner Records

As it turns out, the Tales From the Acoustic Planet albums are where Béla Fleck sounds the most comfortable in the '90s. As his jazz fusion records begin to sound played out, his acoustic experimentation and returns to straight-ahead bluegrass sound lively, vibrant, and fresh. As a matter of fact, The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales From the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2 feels like one of his finest albums, due in no small part to the caliber of supporting musicians. The core band consists of Fleck, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Tony Rice, and Mark Schatz, while Vassar Clements, John Hartford, and Earl Scruggs all guest; it's a veritable who's-who of bluegrass. Fleck's idea was to record everything from the purest bluegrass to modern newgrass, giving his talented musicians the opportunity to explore every facet of their musical personality. Much of the album is devoted to Fleck originals, complimented by a handful of covers, none of which are predictable. The same can be said for the music: Even seasoned newgrass listeners will probably be surprised by some of the twists and turns here, while the sheer commitment and astonishing musicianship will win over traditionalists. But the true key to The Bluegrass Sessions is that even when it gets technical, it feels heartfelt, and the textures keep changing from song to song, enough to keep it interesting, even captivating, throughout 18 songs and 70 minutes. It had been easy to take Fleck for granted, but this record is a welcome reminder of what a talented and unique musician he is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released October 20, 2017 | New Rounder

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Country - Released June 30, 2015 | New Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 2014 | New Rounder

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Classique - Released August 29, 2001 | Sony Classical

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Musiques du monde - Released January 1, 2009 | New Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 2015 | New Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 2015 | New Rounder

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Classique - Released April 27, 2004 | Sony Classical

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Country - Released October 9, 2015 | New Rounder

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Classique - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury (Universal France)

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The Imposter contains two recorded premiers. The first, the title piece, was commissioned in 2010 by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and was banjo master Béla Fleck's first go at the form as a solo composer. He'd co-written a double concerto with bassist Edgar Meyer in 2007 and the pair collaborated on the celebrated Melody of Rhythm: Triple Concerto & Music for Trio with Zakir Hussain in 2009. This work presented a particular set of challenges and possibilities because Fleck's skills at reading -- let alone writing traditionally notated music -- were rudimentary; he reads tablature. Using computer software to aid him in notation, his own gifts for improvisation, expansive harmonic extension and arrangement, and his encyclopedic knowledge of various traditions, we hear more possibility than challenge on both works. On The Imposter, the symphony is under the direction of Giancarlo Guerrero. Fleck approaches the concerto form in three movements that address everyone from Stravinsky and Bartók to Copland, Gershwin, and Earl Scruggs. He also brings the rhythmic elasticity and harmonic palette of a jazz musician to the composition. Notable are the colorful and textural parlances between soloist and orchestra in "Infiltration," which allow Eastern European and Western folk musics into the flow of more classically oriented ideas. "Integration" contains long contrapuntal exchanges that are more speculative and intricate. Finally, "Truth Revealed" commences as an extension of the previous movement, but evolves into a dynamic and dramatic call-and-response dialogue led by Fleck. Jazz and bluegrass, 21st century classical, and crossover motifs become interchangeable and almost cinematic in their expressions, all the while avoiding overly familiar tropes and harmonic traps. The second work here, Night Flight Over Water, is a quintet for banjo and string quartet. It's much more complex -- and fascinating -- because of the built-in tensions between the five-string instruments in both ensemble and solo play. They allow not only for a unique exploration of the classical quintet form, as Fleck seeks to explore not only the possibilities for his own instrument as interloper and collaborator, but also as a tonal and harmonic inquiry at once playful and sophisticated. The last movement in particular is deeply satisfying. While it's hard to say who The Imposter might appeal to more -- classical or Fleck fans -- both should find more than enough here to hold their attention. But that's not even the point. This album represents yet another chapter in what Fleck's raison d'etre has been all along: to integrate and showcase his instrument as seamlessly as possible into virtually every form and genre he turns his attention to, and to prove that it belongs inside them, not as an exotic addition, but for its possibilities as a foundational element. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | New Rounder

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Classique - Released May 25, 1998 | Sony Classical

Banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck has certainly broken more boundaries than any other picker in recent memory, from his early days performing bluegrass-inspired folk compositions on Rounder in the late '70s to his quirky jazz freak-outs with the Flecktones throughout the '90s. In late 2001, this peculiar innovator released an album of banjo interpretations of classical works by Bach, Chopin, and Scarlatti. Before classical purists roll their eyes, they must remember that the banjo hasn't always been seen as the instrument of choice of backwoods musicians in the Appalachian mountains, but as recently as the 1940s was used as a primary rhythm instrument in all manner of parlor music. That being said, Perpetual Motion is a bright and unique take on several well-known classical pieces (Moonlight Sonata, Bach's Cello Suite No. 1) as well as a number of interpretations of Bach's two-part and three-part inventions. These light and brief inventions act as buffers between the longer, more dramatic pieces, but end up serving as some of the highlights of the album. With Fleck often accompanied by Evelyn Glennie on marimba and Appalachia Waltz musicians Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer on violin and bass, these short, delicate pieces weave in and out of the album, proving that the banjo can be seen in a different light altogether. Fleck's picking is uniquely unparalleled in that he can so easily dip his feet into so many different genres with an instrument that is so quickly pigeonholed. The album drifts easily into the background, which is not necessarily a detraction but, knowing the fire that Fleck can unleash from his fingertips, it would have been nice to have a few more impassioned numbers on the album. The closest the ensemble comes to really making some noise is the final track, Paganini's Moto Perpetuo (arranged in a bluegrass style), which is not necessarily more forceful, but is certainly faster and louder. ~ Zac Johnson
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Country - Released October 2, 2015 | New Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 1987 | New Rounder

Recorded while Bela Fleck was still playing with the band New Grass Revival and before he had assembled the Flecktones, 1987's PLACES supports the notion that Fleck is one of the finest and most diverse banjo players on the planet. Fleck's bluegrass roots (which would play an increasingly sublimated role in his fusion work of the '90s) still show strong on PLACES, as the ferocious hoe-down of songs like "Snakes Alive" attests. But those who know Fleck's penchant for picking his way across genre distinctions need not fear, as he heads into jazz ("Perplexed"), rock ("Deviation"), classical ("Ladies and Gentlemen"), experimental noise ("Light Speed") and everything in between. Fleck is joined by a host of friends here, including progressive bluegrass luminaries Sam Bush (mandolin) and Jerry Douglas (dobro). Consequently, this eclectic set is a fun group session, in addition to being an early snapshot of Fleck's prodigious banjo skills.
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Country - Released January 1, 1982 | Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 1986 | Rounder