Bela Fleck & the Flecktones

If the proverbially hip notion of a cool Yule melts your icicles, you couldn't do better this holiday season than check out banjo iconoclast Béla Fleck jingling every which way at the Guthrie. Actually, the show will be based on Jingle All the Way, the Flecktones' Grammy-winning opus from a year ago, which skates through such a winter wonderland of mind-boggling genre twists that it's a good thing Rudolph's on hand to light the way. Bluegrass, bop, Bach, and Brown (as in a funky cover of Vince Guaraldi's tribute to Charlie's friends, "Linus and Lucy") all float around Fleck's intoxicating musical nog, impeccably realized by the merry picker himself and Flecktones Victor Wooten (bass), Future Man (percussion), and Jeff Coffin (saxes, flute). "Sleigh Ride" is a breakneck breakdown that sounds like a jazz fest at Jed Clampett's place. A euphoric "Twelve Days of Christmas" is gloriously festooned with at least twice that many shifts in texture, tone, rhythm, and style, including swing, chamber music, Klezmer, and Tuvan throat singing. The last is courtesy of Tuva's Alash Ensemble, whose guttural groove helps transform "Jingle Bells" into a surreal gallop across the Asian steppes. The group also will accompany the Tones at the Guthrie. Even more stunning is a Tuvan/Appalachian folk-rock fusion of "What Child Is This?" with the Tuvan ditty "Dyngyldai," Wooten's funky electric bass lines whipping in the gale while Coffin wails like Coltrane on sax. A great way to get your holly jollies.
Mon., Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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