Jingle All The Way – Béla Fleck & the Flecktones

Victor Lemonte Wooten, Future Man, Jeff Coffin, Edgar Meyer, Andy Statman and The Alash Group

Label: Rounder

This album was on the bucket list for the Flecktones. We’d started doing Xmas medleys way back in 1989, on our first real tour, before New Grass Revival even disbanded. We thought that making a holiday recording could be a very creative endeavor, and didn’t have to be smarmy, tacky or cheap. It was pretty weird practicing these songs at sound checks in the heat of July. Our road crew nearly mutinied while we attempted to learn to play our Christmas medley, in which we experimented with the idea of playing multiple tunes simultaneously as counterpoint. It took a lot of time and repetition to figure out how to make them all work together – which just sounded to the crew like we were just playing these tunes over and over and over and over. In the end we figured out how to lay 5 or 6 of these tunes on top of each other, which we were excited about. The crew was excited when we stopped. I found a lovely Bach Christmas Cantata, which gave us the excuse to invite Edgar to play one of the lines with us, and play on another couple of tunes as well. Around this time we were contacted by a band of Tuvan ThroatSingers, The Alash Group. They were all highly influenced by our friend Kongar-ol Ondar, who appeared on Live at the Quick and Outbound. They were coming through Nashville and wanted to meet the Flecktones, as they were big fans of Live at the Quick DVD. After listening to their recording, and knowing how much the guys were into throat singing (Jeff, Futch and Vic had all learned the rudiments and could even do it, somewhat) I suggested that we add them in, as an unusual element for our holiday album. The other odd duck guest was Andy Statman, one of the giants of klezmer music and modern bluegrass. I knew him from when he played a lot with my teacher Tony Trischka, and I was looking for ways to play with this musical iconoclast. So he played mandolin and clarinet on a couple of tunes as well. A piece on the album that we worked very hard on was The 12 days of Christmas. We came up with the idea of playing in all 12 keys and 12 time signatures. This was fairly tough to figure out how to do, but eventually the piece surrendered to us and it really came together well. We’ve been told that this is a christmas album for people that hate christmas albums.