Released the same year as PLACES, 1987's DAYBREAK has less of the eclecticism of the former outing, but still captures banjo player Bela Fleck merging his bluegrass roots with forays into other genres (fusions he would perfect with his '90s outfit the Flecktones). The lead-off track, "Texas Barbeque," shows Fleck can still pick his way masterfully through the bluegrass idiom, but the following cut, a version of Chick Corea's romantic, pulsing composition "Spain" (with banjo and mandolin taking the lead lines), proves Fleck is no straight-laced traditionalist.
Likewise, the Celtic-flavored "Growling Old Man and the Grumbling Old Woman," the Fats Waller rag "How Can You Face Me Now," and the sweeping ballad "The Natural Bridge Suite" have Fleck moving all over the musical map with grace and ease. There are occasional glances back to good old bluegrass, albeit often in a warped mirror, as on the progressive charts of "Reading in the Dark." In addition to his arrangements of traditional tunes, Fleck wrote many of the compositions on DAYBREAK, with the melancholy title cut and the slanted, jive-oriented "Flexibility" being the standouts.