Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer - As We Speak

2023 CD release

In Stock

Calculate Shipping

Express Post Parcel - Standard Service - $12.00
Delivery Australia Wide
Free pick-up from store - $0.00
I'll collect my order from #3, Level 4, 428 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

Banjo master Béla Fleck and upright bassist/composer Edgar Meyer have been collaborators since 1982. They have toured together and have often appeared on one another's recordings. In 2006 the pair were commissioned by the Nashville Symphony to compose a triple concerto (they composed a double concerto for the organization in 2004). They enlisted Shakti co-founder and tabla master Zakir Hussain.

They met him at a workshop that year and he expressed sincere interest in orchestral composition. The trio recorded their work as 2009's Grammy-nominated The Melody of Rhythm with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. While touring India in support, they encountered bansuri flutist Rakesh Chaurasia. He joined the trio on-stage, and their collective chemistry resulted in a plan for future collaboration. It took almost a decade-and-a-half, but As We Speak is the long-anticipated result.

The 12-track set ranges musically. Single "Owl's Misfortune" offers each musician's core style, though the approach is multivalent, moving through classical counterpoint, raga, roots, bluegrass, or jazz improv. The album follows a more holistic path, approaching the music like an ensemble with soloists rather than the opposite. "The B Tune," at over nine minutes, offers a wide-angle view as to how this quartet approaches interplay. Composed as a suite, it winds across solitary, darkened minor-key explorations before gelling as a rondo with Chaurasia and Fleck riding together up top. The solo interludes and circular turnarounds (think a Celtic hornpipe on the latter) open pathways for Meyer's plucked and arco bass, adding not only rhythmic support but harmonic invention as Hussain triple times the band, foreshadowing each shift in the music.

"Rickety" is a knotty trio exercise for tabla, bass, and banjo. Fleck's illustration of the harmonic melody reveals his flawless, soulful playing technique, wherein he approaches melodic fragments as small universes of harmony as Hussain peppers the accents then guides the rhythmic adventure. "1980" shifts gears. It commences as a ballad with Fleck strumming and plucking his banjo as Meyer, Chaurasia, and Hussain create a poignant backdrop. "Pashto" is titled for the language of the Pashtuns, the official language of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Using drones, modal invention, and delicate interplay, the tune cuts across raga, tamang selo, and country-blues. "Beast in the Garden" uses progressive bluegrass as a frame before unfolding into jazz with wonderful soloing from Chaurasia. The eight-and-a-half minute "Conundrum" cuts across raga, blues, jazz, and psychedelia; Fleck lays down some rockist chordal vamps before going head-to-head with Meyer in a duel of arpeggios. The title track closer finds the quartet dovetailing an Indian classical motif with a Western one, colored in bluegrass and post-bop, before Hussain delivers a dazzling tabla solo. As We Speak may be credited to Fleck, but he offers these proceedings as a thoroughly engaging conversation among four world-class musicians.

Thom Jurek ~ AllMusicGuide


SKU 793888873681
Barcode # 793888873681
Brand Thirty Tigers

Be The First To Review This Product!

Help other Birdland Records users shop smarter by writing reviews for products you have purchased.

Write a product review

More From This Category