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Bela Fleck

Natural Bridge – 2000 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Bela Fleck

Originally released in 1982, the year he joined up with New Grass Revival, this was the second album from a young but already experimental Bela Fleck. A New York schooled musician who was as much a student of jazz as of bluegrass, here he incorporates '20's era ragtime, fleet-fingered bluegrass romps and more.

The band included Mark Schatz on bass, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Mark O'Connor on guitar, fiddle, and viola, Darol Anger, Sam Bush, and Ricky Skaggs on fiddles, and Jimmy Gaudreau, David Grisman, Mike Marshall, and Buck White on mandolins. Grisman even gets a tune named in his honor, "Dawg's Due." Grisman was either prophetic or inspired by some really good pot the day he penned the liner notes, because his closing comment is pretty close to the mark. "Bela Fleck will be the first banjo-composer since Earl Scruggs to gain mainstream exposure and acceptance." Fleck's work with the Flecktones and New Grass certainly validates that claim. Now, as Grisman closes, "Put the record on and find out why."