For the first time since 1991, the original members of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones are releasing an album. Rocket Science, scheduled for a May 17, 2011 release date, features pianist/harmonica player Howard Levy returning to the group, alongside bassist Victor Wooten, percussionist/drummer Roy “Futureman” Wooten and banjoist and leader Fleck.
In true Flecktones form, the album touches on many genres, from classical and jazz to bluegrass and blues to African and European folk music.
“There were a lot of unfinished aspects to this line-up of the band,” Fleck notes, “in that it stopped right when we were peaking creatively.” For Fleck, Levy’s return enables the Flecktones to follow through on the original concept of a band “where each person was reinventing their instruments, where every one of us was a kind of mutant.”
Formed in 1988 for a single performance on PBS, the band lived on until 1992, when Levy moved on. The band maintained as a trio until saxophonist Jeff Coffin joined the group. By 2009, the band went on a temporary hiatus following Coffins departure from the group, as the saxophonist was tapped to join the Dave Matthews Band following the death of LeRoi Moore. In 2009, the band reunited with Levy for a 2009 tour of the US and Europe.
“It felt just like it did back when we first started playing together,” says Wooten. “Just with a lot less hair.”
The group has also announced a tour in support of Rocket Science, with the following dates:
- May 29, 2011: Chillicothe, IL – Summer Camp Festival
- May 31, 2011: York, PA – Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center
- June 1, 2011: Bethlehem, PA – MusikFest
- June 2, 2011: Wilmington, DE – Grand Opera House
- June 3, 2011: Hunter, NY – Mountain Jam Festival
- June 4, 2011: Raleigh, NC – Carolina Museum of Art
- June 5, 2011: Charleston, SC – Spoleto Festival
- June 10, 2011: Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
- June 11, 2011: Cleveland, OH – Cain Park
- June 12, 2011: Burlington, VT – Burlington Jazz Festival
- June 13, 2011: Lebanon, NH – Opera House
- June 14, 2011: Rochester, NY – Rochester Jazz Festival
- June 17, 2011: Telluride, CO – Telluride Bluegrass Festival
- June 28, 2011: Saskatoon, Canada – Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
- June 30, 2011: Toronto, Canada – Toronto Jazz Festival