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Bela Fleck - Crossing the Tracks

Crossing the Tracks

Béla Fleck

Rounder 11661-0121-2

Rounder Records Corp.
On Camp Street
Cambridge MA 02140

Available from Rounder Records web site.

A review written for Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jim Zimmerschied

From the album cover Béla has been taking rejuvenating pills. He looks about 20 yrs old because this turns out to be a re-release of the LP Crossing the Tracks. So why bother with a CD album of an old record? Unless you have a Béla Fleck collection and have already preserved this album on CD, you would be missing a colossal collection of 5 string banjo tunes by one of the best players around.

Crossing the Tracks as the title implies has a variety of music types included in the 11 tracks. I am partial to old timey and bluegrass instrumentals and this album has some tunes that are dynamite. Dear Old Dixie is super traditional Earl Scruggs impeccably played and dynamically delivered. In the liner notes, the banjo great, Tony Trisca says that at this time (1980) Béla was re-honing his playing to more closely emulate Scruggs (well some aspects of Earl's playing since Béla has his own way with banjo music that makes him unique). Another tune I am wearing the tracks off of is Frosty Morning. There are several others that are tradition type of tunes as you can see by the play list. Béla has written some of his own from the traditional flavored Spring Thaw to the Texas swing style in Inman Square.

Béla can play just about anything on the banjo, and he provides that evidence in his swing tune Inman Square and the flamenco flavor of Spain. Crossing the Tracks is acoustic jazz. The assisting musicians are all giants in the bluegrass/acoustic music area. Russ Barenberg is a fabulous guitarist. Sam Bush is a fiddle/mandolin maniac. Bob Applebaum also handles the mandolin parts well while Mark Schatz holds a tight bass line. The world famous dobro player, Jerry Douglas sits in for a couple hot dobro parts. So with this caliber of musicians, it is not surprising that the whole album is enjoyable. There are even a couple of vocals (Pat Enright) to balance the instrumentals.

The album has eleven tracks:
  • Dear Old Dixie
  • Inman Square
  • Texas Barbeque
  • Growling Old Man and the Grumbling Old Woman
  • Spain
  • Crossing the Tracks
  • Spring Thaw
  • How Can You Face Me Now
  • Twilight
  • Frosty Morning
  • Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow

So if you have let some of these old LP gems slip between your fingers, you now have a second change. "Crossing the Tracks" is well worth picking up.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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