Bela Fleck's "Africa Project" [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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03-30-2009, 05:17 AM
Despite his numerous trips to my neck of the woods I'd never seen Bela Fleck. Banjo music, for some inexplicable reason, always brought up less than pleasent memories even though I have an ex-girlfiiend who played one. Still the ole lady bought tix for Bela Fleck and the "Africa Project". Seems Bela wanted to discover the roots of the Banjo, and journeyed rightly so to Africa to find them. While there he heard and fell in love with a wide variety of stringed and other instruments he'd never heard before. The result was a filmed documentary, an album and now a concert tour...

Last Saturday night the tour rolled into town to play at RPI's Empac Center. The concert was nothing short of mindblowing. As a somewhat jadeded musician I have to say the musicianship displayed by Mr. Fleck and the other's was nothing short of stellar. He did was Paul Simon never did, he didn't allow his ego to overshadow these legendary performers. Fleck did one acoustic solo tune to start the show then allowed each performer to play by themselves for a tune or two before joining them with his Banjo. Perfect!

Musical highlights were the 14 string African Harp that produced sounds and melodies that sent chills down my spine. Also there was no percussion or drums on the tour. The only non melodic instrument was a handheld device that consited of a tin can filled with glass shards. But the fellow working this rudimentary instrument was/is a versatile and true a musician as Fleck or the others. He worked that trashpile instrument like ke owned it which he did.

I don't know where they're onto next but if they roll into your neck of the woods I suggest you check it out.

Da Worfster

03-30-2009, 05:48 AM
Have not seen the tour or heard Fleck's African-based work, but I have no doubt that it was quite moving and beautiful to listen to....Folks don't realise that the banjo is an instrument with very African origins. Some African harp music is strummed in a manner that can be described as banjo-like (banjoid?). Unfortunately, folks tend to think of African music as the Black Mazambo work that Paul Simon made popular, which has been made popular in movies like The Lion King and others. The alternative is the percussive and very rhythmical stuff of the movies of the 1950's and '60's movies that were banal cliches and quite denigrating. The music of Africa is quite diverse and lovely, and I am a big fan of folks like Selif Keita, Miriam Makeba, Wes Madiko and Wasi Djop and others, whose lyrical and emotional flavor has made my listening and personal life much richer. Thanks for the note on Fleck's contribution. It sounds like he and Ry Cooder will do a lot to bridge those gaps that are so glaring on the mainstream palette...

03-30-2009, 03:47 PM
...but something about instrumental music just got boring for me. Even jazz to some degree, and that's pretty tough for me to admit. I concur than Bela is one talented dude, and recall he played 4 nights in a row at Carnegie doing a different genre each night; jazz, bluegrass, rock, and classical or something, as best I can recall. I suppose I'm just at the age where fabulous musicians just don't thrill me any more, at least not when the soloing goes on and on. Seeing the Allman Bros. last year was still a lot of fun, but I did get a little bit wearly with Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes playing solos that went on forever, and I was always a big fan. Seeing a band like Wilco and a few incredible short solos by Nels Cline is just perfect for me.

Geezer Swish