Wednesday, December 22, 2010

CD Review: Jingle All the Way, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

Jingle All the Way
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Audio CD

This is a Christmas album that will make you go "huh?" Entertaining in its peculiarity, my favorite track is none other than Jingle Bells, only this time performed with banjo and throat singing. This is definitely not your grandpa's banjo.

Throat singing? This is where the "huh?" comes in. Isn't all singing "throat singing?" Well, actually no. Throat singing involves isolating harmonic overtones while singing, allowing a performer to produce multiple pitches at the same time. The technique has been practiced by various tribes around the world for millenia. The sound is something like an Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo.

Along with Fleckitizations--I made that up--of a dozen classic Christmas carols, this recording includes a selection from Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio--performed with banjo, of course--followed shortly by "Linus and Lucy" from the movie A Charlie Brown Christmas. That is just a sample of the virtuosic quirkiness represented by the Flecktones.

For those who don't know, Bela Fleck is a banjo player. He has pushed the limits of the instrument to the future and to the past. Most recently he recorded Throw Down Your Heart on both CD and DVD, in Africa with well known African musicians and with villagers. Today's banjo evolved from instruments brought by slaves to America. Mr. Fleck has won 13 Grammy awards and has been nominated in more categories than any other musician, including pop, country, bluegrass, jazz, classical, spoken-word, composition and arranging.

If you are the type of person who wishes you could find the holiday spirit but can't quite muster a festive mood, this CD is for you!

No comments: