Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Béla Fleck and Marcus Roberts

Béla Fleck, on banjo, with Marcus Roberts
The New York City Jazz Record just published my review of a new album by the Marcus Roberts Trio, with Béla Fleck, called "Across the Imaginary Divide."

Here's the first two paragraphs.

As much as jazz is about self-indulgence - consider all the soloing - it’s also very much about wise restraint. The banjoist Béla Fleck embodies those two poles: he’s a virtuoso but he seems to know when to step back, to let some space into the music. This is an important attribute for a banjoist who immerses himself in jazz settings. In "Across the Imaginary Divide" Fleck joins the Marcus Roberts Trio and he adapts well, which is to say the patterns he picks out on his instrument do not make the music too busy.

The excellent pianist Roberts - who got his start playing with Wynton Marsalis in the mid ‘80s - is another sort of virtuoso: of awkwardly refined expression. (You can trace his style back to Ahmad Jamal and Thelonious Monk and the stride pianist James P. Johnson.) How Roberts and Fleck navigate their own differences is what makes this album interesting.

Read the whole thing here, on page 16.

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