The first time banjo legend Béla Fleck, tabla master Zakir Hussain, and double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer got together to make an album, it was to write, not to play.
When Fleck and Meyer were looking for a third partner for a triple concerto they had been commissioned to write to mark the opening of Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, they thought of Hussain, who was quite interested in orchestral writing. “We thought we could learn a whole lot from this guy!” says Béla. The result was The Melody of Rhythm (2009), recorded with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin.
It wasn’t until the three began touring to promote the album that the trio’s true potential became apparent. Although each had a base in a different musical realm — bluegrass for Fleck, Indian classical music for Hussain, and Western classical music for Meyer — they shared a gift for improvisation as well as an ability to reach across musical genres as casually as neighbors might chat over a backyard fence.” When we are performing on stage, in composing mode or creating mode, we are basically having a conversation,” says Hussain. “So the music emerges as we speak.”