Indy: The current Bela Fleck & the Flecktones' CD, The Hidden Land, features just the four-member group, whereas the previous release, Little Worlds , was a three-disc monstrosity with a huge cast of guest musicians. Why the different approach on The Hidden Land?
BF: I got a little nervous that that would be the Flecktones' only identity, as sort of this massive thing where there's always a bunch of extra musicians around, and sort of a freak show of great musicians all ganging together. I was thinking, well, that's a great part of our trip ... [but] I just think if that's all you do, I don't know, it starts to be the same. You've got to find ways to make the music different.
Indy: The Hidden Land was recorded before the group went on a year-long hiatus in 2005. What was the thinking in doing the CD and leaving it on the shelf for a year?
BF: I was trying to be smart in the planning and say [that] when we come back, it would be great to come back with a new album, the excitement that a new album generates and the excitement that a band coming back on the road after a year generates. It seemed to me that it would be a way to focus the whole thing and make it a real special Flecktones time when we came back.
Indy: Was there ever a question that the group would reconvene after the hiatus?
BF: At first, I was a little worried about it. I was afraid the band might not come together if we took a year off. It turned out to be a great thing for me as well as, I think, everybody, both in terms of appreciating the group and in terms of having outside experiences that are healthy and good for musicians to have.
At Denver's Paramount Theatre, Feb. 10.