Bela Fleck and the Flecktones Court 'Danger' With Return to Original Lineup
It's hard to figure out where to position Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Since their inception in 1988, the Grammy-winning band has been at the vanguard of the newgrass movement, primarily because Fleck started out in bluegrass and is one of the greatest living banjo players. The rhythm section of bassist Victor Wooten and his brother Roy "Futureman" Wooten on percussion had a funky feel and a jazz-like intuitive rapport. Together, they are capable of cutting their own swath through jazz, bluegrass, European folk traditions and classical, country, rock and pop.
The quartet was originally rounded out by the universally revered chromatic harmonica player and pianist Howard Levy, who dropped out in 1992 after three classic albums with the band. He was subsequently replaced by saxophonist Jeff Coffin in 1996 after a series of special guests had filled in. Coffin then moved on to play with the Dave Matthews Band in 2010. With the fourth seat empty once again, the Flecktones reunited with Levy to record the brand new 'Rocket Science' and tour for much of the summer.
"I'm not coming out here saying that nothing we've done since without Howard is crap," Fleck tells Spinner of this development. "I'm not going to say some jive like that. I'm very proud of everything we've done. We've always been idealistic about our music and put our best foot forward and tried to make the best music we could. That being said, I do think there is something special about the original band and what it was supposed to be."
The band originally hit the ground running because of a wildly successful debut performance on PBS' Lonesome Pine series. This immediately led to more work and major label deal, and suddenly they were touring everywhere to bigger