Bela Fleck at Berklee

On Tuesday, Bela Fleck’s Trio! (Bela, Stanley Clarke, Jean Luc Ponty) performed in Boston, and they also gave a free clinic for students at the Berklee College of Music in the afternoon. Berklee students were also admitted to the Tuesday evening concert for half price.

David Hollender, Berklee professor and a driving force behind Berklee’s push to attract and admit traditional string instrument players, sent a note yesterday about the clinic.

Bela gave an hour clinic in the Berklee Performance Center yesterday afternoon with Stanley Clark and Jean Luc Ponty. He stayed around for a while after to talk with students, sign autographs, pose for pictures, etc. It was great to see the huge turnout and to overhear kids still talking today about how excited they were to meet him.

Stanley commented that they called Bela because of his musicianship, not because they were looking for a banjo player. Bela turned to the audience and said, ‘The banjo is the instrument of love,’ and that was why they couldn”t resist.

Bela’s playing with the group uses more single string playing than rolls. His soloing was incredibly inventive rhythmically. Few banjo players get such a wide range of tone and articulations (not with effects, just hands). His fluidity and the wide variety of concepts and ideas he employed made it some of the best improvisation I’ve heard.

Bela and Trio! will be on tour for the next few weeks.

UPDATE: I just received these photos of Bela at the Berklee workshop. They were taken by Phil Farnsworth. Just click on any of them to see a larger version.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.