Béla Fleck at Carnegie Hall

Bela Fleck performs Rhapsody in Blue at Carnegie Hall (5/4/24) – photo © Jen Hughes

Béla Fleck’s Rhythm, Raga, and Rhapsody, May 4 at Carnegie Hall included performances from Bruce Hornsby, Zakir Hussein, Rhapsody in Blue, and My Bluegrass Heart.

What a fabulous show. I’ll remember this one for a long time. Everyone there will.

A few “reflecktions” that keep echoing throughout my mind:

  • The way Béla met Bruce Hornsby and dove deep together into the depths of The Way It Is, and danced with each other to bring it into a life of its own: a way it has never been played before. It was stunning. It sounded so good; I practically wept. So amazing to see two soul mates create before one’s very eyes — and with such a beautiful tune.
  • Similarly, with Zakir Hussein – a Béla brother from another mother. Those two have such a great connection; it just shines and resonates. When they were trading “riffs” with each other, it was so fun for the audience, but also jaw-dropping. Again, witnessing masters at work — but, also, at play because it appears they so enjoy playing with each other.
  • The clarinetist! For crying out-loud! What a find and such a great executed idea to have her play with you. She is cut from the same cloth — a rare thing! Her on Juno, in particular, was pure joy in action.
  • Rhapsody.  Rapt: the whole hall!
    • I knew I would love it. I had not seen it live before: just some pieces during some of Béla’s solos, never with a symphony. It was striking how much I loved hearing it live with a symphony. It was powerful, riveting, and perfectly delightful! 
    • And, absolutely masterful during the part where the symphony fell away and Béla played virtually all of their parts on his banjo alone. Literally breathtaking. Bravo.
    • Also, the talent of those Jacobsen brothers. And, how uplifting to see Edgar Meyer’s son in the orchestra. I suspect Béla has known him all his life. Sweet.
    • Awesome that Béla wore that jacket for the Rhapsody segment of the show. That jacket is the best.
  • My Bluegrass Heart.  I will never get enough of it. Legendary playing by all.
    • Slippery Eel. Whoa! I think I broke a sweat it was moving so fast. Béla slayed it.
    • Rhapsody in Blue(grass) was to die for. 
    • The ever-beautiful Big Country. The addition of Zakir’s percussion was phenomenal, and every time Michael Cleveland played the part that I always think of as when the angels sing or the eagles soar my heart skipped a few beats. 

Béla has shows and they are all excellent  — and always a treat for me. Then, Béla has SHOWS This was a SHOW. Absolutely epic. What a great showcase of some of the genres he has steeped himself in and the beauty he has created. And, also of the excellent like-minded folks he has found or identified along the way to collaborate with – and, in many instances, shared his spotlight with so they can be elevated.

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About the Author

Jen Hughes

Jen Hughes is a devoted bluegrass enthusiast. An Upstate New York native who resides in Washington, D.C., Jen attends shows in and around the Nation’s capital, a bluegrass haven. She also makes the trek to as many festivals as possible each year. The sweet sounds of New Grass Revival took hold of her in high school and she has studied up on the genre backwards and forwards since then. Her hope is to get even more people hooked as she is on bluegrass music and its extraordinary artists and community.