Friday, October 23, 2009

Early: Inman Square

Bela Fleck: Inman Square


Béla Anton Leoš Fleck - named for three modern European composers - had already mastered a vast array of jazz, blues, folk and bluegrass styles at the tender age of 21, despite having only picked up the instrument at 15 while a student at the NYC High School of Art and Music. Two years later, he would join newgrass pioneers New Grass Revival; from there, it was a short journey to becoming perhaps the world's best-known fusion banjo player.

That his 1979 solo debut Crossing The Tracks aptly demonstrates his technical prowess even at that young age is undeniable: the music may be measured here, but from traditional bluegrass to more slippery jazztunes such as this one, the songs are exquisitely arranged, thoughtfully composed, and performed almost flawlessly. It's not Bela's best work, by a long shot, but there's more than a glimmer of his later genius, even if it would take a year or two more to truly loosen up.

As a total personal aside, this song is named after the small Cambridge, MA village where, at 21 myself, I had my first legal drink.

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