Béla Fleck’s African Project
Page Auditorium, Duke UniversityAfter listening as Béla Fleck & the Flecktones’ instrumental prowess grew more unbridled over the last decade, it’s hard not to approach a project he helms with some degree of skepticism. The same goes for the great pasty wave of African music plunderers who hold Paul Simon’s Graceland as a touchstone, ham-fisting ideas they can half play onto records taken too seriously. But let’s count Throw Down Your Heart, the third volume of Fleck’s consistently great Tales from the Acoustic Planet series, in the same victory column as his contributions to The Sparrow Quartet last year. Deserving of any adoration and attention it lands, Throw Down Your Heart collects 18 of the more than 40 pieces Fleck recorded in Nashville, Colorado, Uganda, Tanzia, Gambia and Mali with more than 100 African musicians. Largely made outdoors, Heart doesn’t add sheen to its subjects, smartly focusing more on variety than production. As such, we hear Fleck’s modal meditation beneath the jarring tone of a bowed lyre in Tanzania, and his rudimentary playfulness behind the powerful rhythmic movement of Uganda’s Muwewesu Xylophone Group. Even with Toumani Diabate, D’Gary, Vusi Mahlasela and several others in tow, one wonders how Fleck will approach the self-funded record’s variety onstage. Chances are, it’ll be wonderful. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show run $5-$42. Grayson Currin