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Rocket Science

4.6 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Bela Fleck is the only musician to be nominated for Grammys® in jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, spoken word, christian, composition and world music categories. His totalcount is 11 Grammys® won, and 27 total nominations. Groundbreaking banjoist/composer/bandleader Béla Fleck has reconvened the original Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, the extraordinary initial line-up of his incredible combo. Rocket Science marks the first recording by the first fab four Flecktones in almost two decades, with pianist/harmonica player Howard Levy back in the fold alongside Fleck,
bassist Victor Wooten, and percussionist/ drumitarist Roy Futureman Wooten. Far from being a wistful trip back in time, the album sees the Grammy® Award-winning quartet
creating some of the most forward thinking music of their long, storied career. While all manner of genres come into play from classical and jazz to bluegrass and African music to electric blues and Eastern European folk dances the result is an
impossible to pigeonhole sound all their own, a meeting of musical minds that remains, as ever, utterly indescribable. Simply put, it is The Flecktones, the music made only when these four individuals come together. I didn t want to just get together to play the old music, Fleck says. That s not what the Flecktones are about. Everybody s full of life and ideas and creativity. I was intrigued by what we could do that we had never done before.
Visionary and vibrant as anything in their already rich canon, Rocket Science feels more like a new beginning than simply the culmination of an early chapter. The band now embarks on an extensive tour, and there s no telling how this new music will further
develop in performance. We re going to have to have this experience together and see how everybody likes it, Fleck says. I know that we haven t even come close to exhausting the possibilities with this record, but we sure went deeper than we ever had before.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 17, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Entertainment One Music
  • ASIN: B004S699GI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,283 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Andrew Howe on May 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I first found the Flecktones thanks to BMG cd club (remember those?) in college. Flight of the Cosmic Hippo was one of my random "hm this seems interesting" selections. That sound and musicality make Flecktones my favorite band over the ensuing 15+ years, as I snatched up all their music. Rocket Science hails back to their Flight of the Cosmic Hippo era origins. It is so refreshingly Flecktones (and that means original) that I've listened to this album 4 or 5 time already since purchasing. If you liked the early work of the Flecktones, you will devour this new album from Bela+Victor+Futureman. I recommend Rocket Science without reservation.
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The Original Flecktones are back! Howard Levy rejoins the gang after nearly 20 years. With Jeff Coffin being out again on a limited $ummer DMB tour and his return questionable, Fleck-heads are being blessed with the return of The Man-with-2-Brains. The original fourth member, Howard Levy is back playing diatonic harmonica and piano (usually at the same time). Don't get me wrong, Jeff Coffin is great, but Howard always seemed to fit better with the other 'Tones. If you are familiar with the band's early recordings you will love this. If not, Rocket Science is one of their better entry level albums. For a band who defies the laws of physics as easily as the genres of music the do so in, I find it interesting that to show their uniform progression they had to take the band back in time. As someone who follows the band and the music of the individual members I am glad to say that you can hear the years they have been apart, all of the experiences are audible. They each bring new life to the music. But, most importantly it sounds like they had as much fun playing it as you will listening to it. Can't wait for the tour! Buy Now!
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I have quite a lot of Bela Flecks CDs, both with the Flecktones and without. Some I really like, some I'm not a huge fan of. The one thing that I always looked for, even on the discs that I don't totally love, are the instrumental gems that really drop your jaw. There is no shortage of those moments on this effort.
Overall, I like the saxophone much better than the harmonica, but there is no denial of Howard's talent. Some of the harmonica playing on here is phenomenal and he's no slouch on the piano either. The overall feel on the disc is light and jazzy, with great interplay and really fantastic unison lines as well, much like in their last album Hidden Land. The songs are well formed and tightly played. The special guest star pop song phase has thankfully run its course, apparently. There is much to like here.
But what to really like? For me it was the song Sweet Pomegranates. This is a truly great song. Tonally, it is reminiscent of the great Avishai Cohen song Etude, but it is structurally different. It has a great old world feel to it. While the album overall is quite strong, this song is another standout piece that will definitely keep me coming back for more.
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Howard Levy is a good fit with the Flecktones, because he does the apparently impossible on harmonica, as do Fleck on banjo, Wooten on bass, and Future Man on whatever that thing is he plays. And while seeming impossible, it's fine and fun music. Great to have him back.
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Rocket Science is an INCREDIBLE album. I own every Flecktone CD. And I've enjoyed every variation of the Flecktones as of yet. I play harmonica so I am biased toward the Levy years. Not only because I play harmonica but also because of the nature of the compositions. They are more structured and yet they are just as soulful (although the band explores the structure like master journeymen on tour). This is my favorite Flecktones album. It is remarkable that their chemistry remains as potent after 20 years apart. I have to say that it required several go-throughs before I could begin to fully appreciate it. My wife and kids bought me tickets to see them live at the Lebanon Opera House in New Hampshire last week (Father's Day gift). They wove into the show nearly every song (not Earthling Parade)from this album. Have to say they sounded fresh and invigorated. The album is naturally chock-full of complex pieces, but again they bare their instrumental souls. Once you can conceptualize all the parts of "Earthling Parade" into one piece, it is beautiful--first to last note (a common experience with many of their songs). Levy's harmonica solo on "Gravity Lane" brings tears to my eyes...it is POWERFUL (similar to his work on "the star spangled banner" years ago). Life in Eleven seems like an impossible feat everytime I hear it. Like Water reminds me of Half Moon Bay (one of my favorite songs) but is so original. Falani is a beautiful piece that reflects Celtic sounds. So melodic and meaningful. The live version I saw in Lebanon New Hampshire was brilliant. It was extremely organic. They added a fiddle player to the show. I was brought back to days when people existed in tribes and music was communal and relational and more meaningful. Victor's bass is as brilliant as ever.Read more ›
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Its like you never left. That said, this is not just a rehash of the first few, pre-Jeff Coffin, Flecktones efforts. It is entirely fresh.
Like some others, I was never entirely a Coffin fan: sometimes he sounded like elevator music, especially when he played the soprano sax. Don't get me wrong, he could swing w Bela & the Wootens, I just think Howard gives the Tones a much earthier, rootier sound.
All of the positive reviews here are right on. Gravity Lane gets things off to a great start. Prickly Pear then gets more electric & funkier (though I don't care for the old timey piano lead stuck in the middle of the song). Life in 11 is one of those wonderfully complex, yet simultaneously accessible, Flecktones workouts in an odd time signature. Bottle Rocket closes things up on a wonderful upbeat note. About the only track I don't care for is the designated Futureman solo drumitar piece, the Secret Drawer. That is but a quibble.
Long time Flecktones fans rejoice. Newer fans, enjoy.
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