Like Blues Traveller’s John Popper, banjoist BZla Fleck took a very particular road to stardom: find an instrument that not many people play, learn how to play it, then play the hell out of it.

Both in his countless guest appearances with, well, anyone who has ever needed a banjo on their record and with his own supergroup the Flecktones, BZla has proven himself to be the true master of the instrument. This is apparent once again on the band’s new album, “Little Worlds.”

Usually a group known for its tight and arduous compositions, the Flecktones loosen up a bit to create a more groove-heavy sound. The album’s opener “Bil Mon” and “Snatchin'” display the new feel, while others like “Mudslingers of the Milky Way” still show the signs of the anal-retentive plucker we have come to know and love.

The band itself is on fire: Victor Wooten shows off the chops that make him one of the world’s best bassists. Jeff Coffin steals some great leads on sax when he isn’t busy trying to figure out how “drummer” Future Man plays that crazy keyboard — drum — synth percussion thing. Throw in some A-List guest appearances from the likes of Branford Marsalis, jazz great (and, yes, the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” guy) Bobby McFerrin, young slide guitarist Derek Trucks and Irish folk phenomenon the Chieftains, and you have a recipe for great genre-bending jazz.

True, the three-disk set can at times feel bloated (though a pared-down, one-disc set is available), and the songs can occasionally seep into smooth jazz territory, but these are small prices to pay for the thick jams that fill the rest of the album.

So it appears our friend Fleck has done pretty well for himself. Anyone know a good accordion teacher?