Hip-hop, funk, and jazz artists are not the only cats who trace creative roots to Africa. So do such banjo-plucking white boys as Béla Fleck, the acoustic savant who tracked his instrument to its ancestral homeland in this audio-visually phenomenal Sascha Paladino documentary.
In his journeys through Uganda, Tanzania, Gambia, and Mali, Fleck blends in like a long-lost tribesman every time his fingers start picking. Throw Down Your Heart packs some contextual history — mostly about slavery and musical migration — but the film is more of an amalgamation of improvised concert footage than a deep documentary.
If Fleck — who shows and discusses the film at the Coolidge Corner Theatre this Thursday, July 9 — weren't such a gracious soul chasing the spirit of Sankofa, this could have been an exercise in exploitation of Graceland-ian proportions. But that's hardly the case on his magical musical mystery tour.