As befitting jazz, where stylistic boundaries slide away in the face of creativity, an innovative but unlikely pairing of two virtuoso instrumentalists—pianist Chick Corea and banjo player Béla Fleck—was born. Fleck, a multiple Grammy award winner, and Corea, an NEA Jazz Master and likewise multiple Grammy winner, have long been admirers of each others’ music, and once the idea for a collaboration came about the synthesis between piano and banjo was effortless. In concert, Corea and Fleck converse with joy and grace as if they’ve been longtime collaborators. They lead and follow as well as spur each other on. They buoy and muse. Unlike many duo projects where each musician takes extended solo excursions, here the pianist and banjoist play as one, joining together on joyrides through the songs.
Bela Fleck is often considered the premier banjo player in the world. A New York City native, he picked up the banjo at age 15 after being awed by the bluegrass music of Flatt & Scruggs. While still in high school he began experimenting with playing bebop jazz on his banjo, mentored by fellow banjo renegade Tony Trischka. In 1980, he released his first solo album, Crossing the Tracks, with material that ranged from straight ahead bluegrass to Chick Corea’s “Spain.” In 1982, Fleck joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, making a name for himself on countless solo and ensemble projects ever since as a virtuoso instrumentalist. In 1989 he formed the genre-busting Flecktones, with members equally talented and adventurous as himself.
Chick Corea is one of the most important jazz pianists in the world, and is one of the most prolific composers of the last 50 years. From his early days with Blue Mitchell and Mongo Santamaria to his important work with the beginnings of electric fusion with Miles Davis and Return to Forever, Corea has constantly been at the crux of what is new in the jazz world. He has won 15 Grammy Awards, having been nominated a staggering 51 times.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“…One of the standout elements is the fact that, instead of using their kinetic duality as a springboard for extended one-instrument solo sections, their percussive lines weave and intertwine beautifully throughout, like a mosaic determined to mine uncharted territory.” – Jonathan Widran, All Music