Béla Fleck: The Sinister Minister


The Sinister Minister


Bela Fleck and the Flecktones


Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (Warner Brothers 9 26124-2)

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BĂ©la Fleck (banjo), Victor Wooten (bass),

Howard Levy (harmonica, keyboards), Roy Wooten (synthe-axe/Drumitar)


Composed by Béla Fleck


Recorded: Nashville, TN, 1989


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

In the early days of fusion, one could never imagine that some day one of its more popular exponents would be playing a banjo. John McLaughlin pulled one out with the One Truth Band for a number. But aside from that one-off, there were no banjos to be found anywhere. It's not just about the banjo. Who would have expected that bluegrass music would find its way into fusion music? There is a slight lineage from the Southern jazz-rock of the Dixie Dregs. But still, there was no banjo or bluegrass. It took Béla Fleck, among others, to do that.

"Sinister Mister" is really a showcase for bassist Wooten. His walking electric bass sounds more like he is skipping down the street gathering up the kids for a game. It is immediately infectious. It grabs you at the beginning and never lets you go. Levy's harmonica also beckons. There may be a sinister tone to all this, but it is fun sinister, like the Munsters. Béla takes a lighthearted solo: no heavy lifting. To be honest, on this number, there is more blues than bluegrass. At the break, Wooten does some real cool bass stuff before the musicians put their instruments down to get the game started.

Nowadays, we have what is known as "newgrass." This is progressive bluegrass music that contains elements of fusion. Who would have thunk it? Well, Béla Fleck, Sam Bush and some others, that's who.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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