Béla Fleck & The Flecktones: Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones
Outbound (Columbia CK 62178)
BĂ©la Fleck (banjo),
Shawn Colvin (vocals), Jeff Coffin (soprano sax), Paul McCandless (soprano sax, oboe), Paul Hanson (bassoon), John Medeski (organ), Adrien Belew (guitar), Victor Wooten (bass), Future Man (drumitar [guitar-shaped drum synthesizer]).
Composed by Béla Fleck.
Recorded: Nashville, TN; released 2000
Rating: 87/100 (learn more)
As a fan, I am happy when a favorite jazz artist is nominated for a Grammy. But I always get suspicious. If the mainstream Grammy people are digging what I dig, there's got to be a problem. And let's face it, if a jazz album has special guests from the pop world like Sting, Bon Jovi, Diddy, or Beyoncé, it is almost guaranteed to be nominated. Think Herbie Hancock and 2007's Grammy Record of the Year. I have yet to hear that album. It is probably quite good. But I assure you the same album without popular mainstream stars Norah Jones, Tina Turner or Joni Mitchell on it would not have been nominated. As a jazz fan, that really burns my butt. Béla Fleck & The Flecktones' Outbound won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz album. One of the recording's guest stars is pop vocalist and Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin. "Here we go," I think to myself as I look at the cover askance.
"Hall of Mirrors" proves my concerns were unfounded. The intro is a bit spacey and esoteric for the Flecktones. I soon discover that Colvin's voice is used as an instrument. She sings no words. She is a sprightly woodwind playing along with Jeff Coffin's sax and Béla Fleck's banjo on the piece's singsong melody. We are back in Flecktones territory. I catch a bit of Medeski's B-3 at the end. But for the most part the heavy-duty musicians on this cut must be adding textures and shades, since you don't hear much from them. Perhaps they did their thing in the spacey intro. This is a catchy number replete with an ingratiating theme and fun attitude that should please most listeners.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky