Once a feral, reviled thing, the genre known as fusion blending jazz with funk/R&B, rock, etc. had by the 1980s been absorbed into the mainstream. 'Round the same time, there was a parallel, though less-high-profile movement, thriving. Musicians established in bluegrass and traditional country circles were branching out into swinging, jazz-oriented improvisation (though with primarily acoustic instrumentation). Influenced by John Coltrane as much as Earl Scruggs, banjo baron Bela Fleck was one at the forefront of this strange new music. Never one to stay still, Fleck decided to plug in, adding strong doses of funk (via the sinewy electric bass of Victor Wooten), world music, and post-bop jazz (the Rahsaan Roland Kirk-like Jeff Coffin and his arsenal of wind instruments). And presto, the Flecktones. Fleck's fellows merge the responsive interplay of jazz with the high energy and flash of arena rock yet through it all, Fleck is one with his roots.
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Bela Fleck and the Flecktones take flight at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater, 1806 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach. Tickets cost $35. Call 954-523-3309.