Bela Fleck is taking 2005 off from touring with the Flecktones, but he will still be very busy with a number of new projects.

Bela Fleck is taking 2005 off from touring with the Flecktones, but he will still be very busy with a number of new projects. According to his official Web site, Fleck is currently recording an album in Africa with native musicians, sessions for which will also yield a future documentary DVD. Fleck will report on the experience weekly on National Public Radio's "The World."

After returning from Africa, Fleck will begin a series of performances with Bryan Sutton and Cassey Driessen as the Acoustic Trio on March 26 at the Suwannee Festival in Live Oak, Fla. Other confirmed appearances include Merlefest in North Carolina in late April, Bonnaroo in mid-June and the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in late September in Longford, Ireland.

But Fleck will spend most of the summer performing with !Trio! alongside jazz bassist Stanley Clarke and violinist Jean Luc Ponty. The group is crafting original material to perform at North American jazz festivals and during a July European run.

Stretching into late November, Fleck will play 10 dates with longtime collaborator/bassist Edgar Meyer. The pair is also planning to work on its second concerto next year, on the heels of their 2004 album, "Music for Two."

Fleck will return to his main band when the year is up, noting that "The Flecktones have a new album recorded already and will release it when we come back on the road in early 2006."

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