Above: Bela Fleck live at the 2016 Burlington Discover Jazz FestivalThis past week, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones reunion tour hit up the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. Even though the weather was a bit iffy and chilly, the Flecktones rolled on through a powerful set showing how truly talented each member of the group really is.
When the Thursday edition of the Burlington Jazz Festival started up, the wind whipped across Lake Champlain shaking the big tent and everyone underneath it. However, more and more people began to come in, unfazed by the weather. While scattered raindrops threatened rain, the weather eventually cleared up by the time Bela Fleck came onstage with the Flecktones. The evening was filled with wonderful and unique jazz music.
The first group of the night was a due from Burlington, Soul Monde. The band consisted of pianist Ray Paczkowski and drummer Russ Lawton. Ray had multiple pianos and keyboards he was playing with, which made their set interesting especially with how he set up his one piano connected to a base guitar. The group was a good warm up band for the evening.
Next Brooklyn based jazz group The High & Mighty Brass Band proved great openers for Bela Fleck. With their multiple instruments, the band got everyone dancing and grooving. Their set was extremely dance able and very fun. The band was proud they were from Brooklyn but showed appreciation of how they took the drive up to the city of Burlington. The only thing that made the concert some what lukewarm was the guitarist, who could have used some extra help despite trying his best. All the other members of the band were on fire, especially the tuba player and vocalist and drummer.
But the highlight of Thursday night at Jazz Festival were of course Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. It was awesome seeing the band together after only a handful of reunion shows on their new tour. The past time they played together was around four years ago.
The tent became super crowded as The Flecktones came on stage with everyone wanting a good spot and getting packed up front. A crowd of around 2k people awed as the Flecktones began delivering an amazing set of jazz, funk and hopping tunes. The crowd was a surprising mixture of both young and old and male and females. It was great being in the presence of jazz fans of all ages.
The best thing about the Flecktones is that they are so great musically that they don't need a lead singer. As the band pointed out, Bela Fleck does things with the banjo that few other artists can do. You can tell how well he connects with the banjo and truly loves to play it. Bela was excited as everyone else to have the band together again for a night full of music.
Perhaps the best thing about Thursday night was Victor Wooten. The bassist was incredible, simply awe inspiring to watch live. The way he moves the bass around and plays around a million times a minute is something that every music fan should witness live.
The festival itself was a great event on the shores of Lake Champlain. It was run extremely well, however, they could have used more outhouses as it became super crowded later at night. Other then that, the people behind Burlington Jazz Festival know how to do a great time.
It was worth going to for any jazz fan, and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones are an act not to be missed.
Photos by Justin Gorelick
High & Mighty Brass Band:
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones