Jingle All The Way
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones
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Grammy-winning banjo "fusionist" Béla Fleck and his Flecktones may be the most qualified collective to inject some life into the notoriously monotonous "holiday music" scene, and Jingle All the Way (one would think that an innovator like Fleck could come up with a more creative "Christmas" album title, or at least one that doesn't directly reference a 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy), doesn't disappoint. All of the standards are here ("Sleigh Ride," "Silent Night," "Twelve Days of Christmas"), but they're filtered through the skewed prism of an outfit capable of just about anything from klezmer, to classical to Tuvan throat singing — the latter is provided by the internationally acclaimed Alash Ensemble. It's not all wacky though, as Fleck, Victor Wooten, Jeff Coffin, and Future Man prove reverent when needed, especially on a cover of Joni Mitchell's "River" and the Vince Guaraldi classics "Linus and Lucy" and "Christmas Time Is Here." Jingle All the Way, despite its groaner of a title and questionable "frontman in Santa hat with eggnog" photo, is anything but predictable.
Born: 10 July 1958 in New York, NY
Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s