Béla Fleck

Ten From Little Worlds

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Ten From Little Worlds is a sort of a sampler of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones' three-CD-long concept album, Little Worlds. While the full work seems a little disjointed and too expansive, the ten-song collection is a little more digestible. The idea for the project seems to have been to record an album that sounds like sitting in a car and flipping through radio stations -- hearing snippets of hip-hop, Chinese opera, Irish folk, Hawaiian ukulele, mid-'80s funk, and, of course, bluegrass and jazz, then expanding that experience out to three entire discs. If any group on the planet could pull this off, it could only be Fleck and his Flecktones, but the concept (being as convoluted as it is) makes for a rather uneven listen. The bright and jazzy "Puffy" neatly bridges the gap between contemporary jazz and new acoustic music, but the unfortunate hip-hop version of Flatt & Scruggs' "Ballad of Jed Clampett" never needed to be recorded.

It seems as though Fleck will never run out of ideas, and on this more accessible ten-track sampler the majority of the songs seem to work well together. This could be because Sony selected more tuneful tracks for the sampler, or simply because ten songs of experimental, genre-bending jazz/world fusion is easier to handle than the nearly 30 on the full-length. Every note is impeccably played and pristinely recorded, and for those Flecktones fans who like to pull apart their extremely technical pieces of music, analyze them, and put them back together, ten tracks will probably not be enough. For the rest of the music-buying populace, ten songs may even be too much.

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