After releasing the ambitious three-CD set, Little Worlds
, and taking a year's sabbatical to pursue solo projects, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
went back to basics with 2006's The Hidden Land
. That CD scaled back the production a bit from their previous outing, emphasizing more concise arrangements brought to life by the considerable skills of Fleck on banjo, Jeff Coffin on saxophones, Victor Wooten on electric bass and his brother "Futureman" on electronic drums and percussion. The band's signature blend of jazz, bluegrass, world music and classical remains as distinctive as ever, and a few grumbles about the occasional diffident live performance notwithstanding their combination of clever tunes, instrumental pyrotechnics and a friendly, jam-bandish vibe continues to draw eager audiences.