Béla Fleck has never been one to stick to stereotypes or common expectations for the banjo, or for banjo players in general. He has fans in the bluegrass, new acoustic, jazz, classical and modern funk worlds. Some follow him and his music across that wide spectrum, while others are content to sample from the smorgasbord according to their own tastes.
I have discussed Fleck with bluegrassers who revere his Drive album as iconic, but avert their eyes from his work with The Flecktones. Conversely, I have heard fans of his jazzy, funky sound who are aghast at the notion that he ever played hillbilly music. There’s no pleasing some people, I suppose.
But Béla has always followed his own muse, looking for projects that will expand his experience, and his technical mastery of the instrument. Jazz piano has apparently been on his mind of late, with a 2007 duet album with Chick Corea, and a new record, Across The Imaginary Divide, with The Marcus Roberts Trio just released.
As Fleck and Roberts reveal in this promotional video, the album wasn’t meant for either artist to bend to the other’s style, but to see what happens when they all got together.
Across The Imaginary Divide is available now on Rounder Records. Béla will be touring with the Roberts Trio throughout 2012 in support of the album.