WEB EXTRA: The many faces of Bela Fleck

It’s not very often that an artist gets to collaborate with one of his or her biggest influences, and it’s even less often when those two collaborators are both legendary forces in music. This coming Saturday, March 3, bluegrass banjo prodigy B?la Fleck will be performing at the Warner Theatre with visionary jazz pianist Chick Corea. Currently traveling the country on their first tour together, Fleck and Corea bring their duo of virtuosic intensity to the stage for what promises to be a monumental concert.

From his humble beginnings as French horn player in New York City, to playing on the streets of Boston as an up-and-coming banjo player, Fleck has spent the last twenty-five years making a name for himself as the best banjo player in the world. He was nominated for his first Grammy Award in 1988 in what was then a brand new category, Best Bluegrass Album. To this day, B?la Fleck has been nominated for Grammys in composition, rock, country, jazz, classical, and even spoken word.

Just a few weeks ago, Fleck and his band, B?la Fleck and the Flecktones, were collecting another award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. But that was just the beginning of a very busy year for the banjoist. He and the Flecktones, which is comprised of world class musicians Victor Wooten on the bass, Jeff Coffin on the saxophone, and Roy “Future Man” Wooten on the drumitar (an instrument he invented,) have already toured Europe in first two months of 2007, and now Fleck has taken a hiatus for his tour with Corea. Corea, who played piano for Miles Davis and many other musicians in the 1960s, is most renowned for his work with jazz fusion in the 1970s, a new genre at the time.

Fleck, who has been made most famous by his work The Flecktones, has a myriad of other experience. He has appeared on albums by the Dave Matthews Band, but normally tends to work with lesser-known musicians in unique genres of music. Now, at the age of 48, he is working on several unusual projects, including the recording of traditional African music, as well as working with a young banjo player who uniquely combines the trademark bluegrass style with Chinese influences.

As the music festival season gets underway, be on the lookout for the jam-jazz-fusion of B?la Fleck and the Flecktones. Their musical prowess is truly unsurpassed, and they still play with the same enthralling energy that they did when the band first formed almost twenty years ago. In the meantime, though, settling for the legendary duo of Fleck and Corea is no slouch. Although it’s only their first tour together, there is no doubt that they will deliver a truly unique and remarkable performance.

B?la Fleck and Chick Corea will be playing at the Warner Theatre on 13th St. NW between E and F, NW, on Saturday, March 3 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are still on sale and range in price from $47.50 – $62.50.

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