Outbound (Columbia Records)

Béla Fleck and The Flecktones

Released July 25, 2000

Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album 2001

YouTube:

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg9hfHXD4s0&list=OLAK5uy_kDxEBvzLf9uCRRLeLh6ZarFRjuiP1Nm9M

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/album/0lqC08sQLMEGzlFlw05Yd5?si=XC6dZajjQpuJ17wxVSBn0w

About:

Béla Fleck is often considered the premiere banjo player in the world. A New York City native (named after composer Béla Bartok), he picked up the banjo at age 15 after being awed by the bluegrass playing of Flatt & Scruggs. He began experimenting with playing bebop on the banjo in high school. In 1982, he joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, where he made a name for himself in the country-bluegrass world. At the same time he was releasing a series of solo albums for Rounder Records. 
In 1989 he formed the Flecktones. They made their self-titled debut recording in 1990 by playing a “blu-bop” mix of jazz and bluegrass and soon became a commercially successful, critically-acclaimed and award-winning band. (Fleck–the only musician to be nominated for Grammys in jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, spoken word, Christian, composition and world music categories– also recorded solo releases including 1994’s Tales from the Acoustic Planet and last year’s The Bluegrass Sessions–Tales from the Acoustic Planet Volume 2.) 
Béla launched his association with Sony with the release of Outbound, the aptly-titled Flecktones Columbia CD which features the band performing with an all-star cast of guest artists including vocalists Shawn Colvin and Jon Anderson (of the group Yes), guitarist Adrian Belew, oboe player Paul McCandless, and keyboardist John Medeski (of the jazz jam-band Medeski, Martin & Wood). Like previous Flecktones albums from the past decade, the music on Outbound is a brilliant melange of styles–from bluegrass to jazz to world beat–that is often built around, as Fleck calls it, “the banjo being weird.” 

What a difference a year makes. We had moved to Sony Records, after a bidding war between three major labels. Sony had the bonus aspect of being a place where I could record on the classical side for Peter Gelb, who worked with Edgar. At this time Branford Marsalis was heading up the Jazz side, and we also had the commitment for some pop marketing for the Flecktones, so it seemed like a pretty good fit all the way around. We decided that more is more, and we added a pile of special guests to the line up for this album. They included Paul McCandless, Paul Hansen, Dave Mathews, John Anderson from Yes, throat singer Kongar-ol Ondar, Sandip Burman on tablas and Andy Narel on Steel Pans. Future Man sang a couple of vocals on this album, and we were getting better at that, I believe. But vocals were just a piece of the puzzle, not the center of what we were about.

Béla Fleck

Track Listing:

1/2. Intro/Hoedown (Aaron Copland) 4:54

3. A Moment So Close (Béla Fleck) 4:47

4. Zona Mona (Jeff Coffin / Béla Fleck) 5:01

5. Hall of Mirrors (Béla Fleck) 4:54

6. Earth Jam (Béla Fleck / Victor Wooten) 5:55

7. Something She Said (Béla Fleck) 3:36

8. Ovombo Summit (Future Man) 0:40

9. Aimun (Jeff Coffin / Béla Fleck / Victor Wooten) 5:50

10./11. Prelude/Lover’s Leap (Béla Fleck) 4:16

12. Outbound (Béla Fleck) 4:52

13. Scratch & Sniff (Béla Fleck / Victor Wooten) 5:00

14. Shuba Yatra (Béla Fleck) 4:42

15. That Old Thing (Béla Fleck) 3:21

16. Reprise 0:44

Personnel:

Béla Fleck: banjo, guitar, national steel guitar, sitar (electric), horn and string arrangements

Victor Wooten: electric bass

Future Man: cymbals, drumitar, drums, cajón, sampling,

Paul Hanson: bassoon, saxophones soprano and tenor

synthesizer, tambourine, tom-tom

Paul McCandless: horn (english), oboe, penny whistle, saxophone soprano

Edgar Meyer: double bass

Sandip Burman: tabla

John Catchings: cello

Jeff Coffin: clarinet, flute (alto), saxophone alto, soprano, tenor, horn and string arrangements

The Love Sponge String Quartet

David Davidson: violin

David Angell: violin

Kristin Wilkinson: viola

Guests

Jon Anderson: vocals

Adrian Belew: electric guitar

Shawn Colvin: vocals

Rira Sahai: vocals

Royel: vocals

John Medeski: electric organ

Andy Narell: steel drums

Mark Feldman: violin

Recorded 1999, at Avalon Digital Studio, San Luis Obispo, CA; Blue World Music, Dripping Springs, TX; Flecktone World Headquarters; Good and Evil Studio, Brooklyn, NY; KOTO Radio Station; StudioBelew, Mount Juliet, TN

Produced by Béla Fleck

Engineer: Richard Battaglia and Robert Battaglia

Mastering: Denny Purcell

Photography by Chip Simons

Review:

Another consistently interesting, groundbreaking voice is banjo-wielding Bela Fleck, who with the Flecktones captures swamp tones, classical romance, electric rock, bebop and everything in-between on the fascinating Outbound (Columbia CSK 12925; 60:03). Part of the magic of Fleck’s work is that you can never quite figure out where he’s going, but the trip includes familiar voices and themes-both comforting and disturbing. On “Hall of Mirrors,” for example, Fleck’s banjo revolves in resonant clustered licks, while a blurbing bass gives the feel of bobbing on the water. Soprano sax, lithe vocalese and some searing guitar work add mystery at every turn until you’re literally lost in the music. “Something She Said” sets an undertone of darkness beneath its acoustic romantic feel, adding Adrian Belew’s electric guitar as counterpoint to softly weaving saxophone. The Flecktones are still among the tightest bands around, using dynamics to masterful effect, and showcasing dazzling technique on tunes like a frenetic, electric-layered reworking of Copland’s classic “Hoedown,” and the Middle Eastern-tinged “A Moment So Close,” which features guests Shawn Colvin and Yes’ Jon Anderson on haunting vocals. Nothing is ever straightforward in the world of Bela Fleck, but it’s always an interesting and rewarding trip.

Hilarie Grey (JazzTimes)