BELA FLECK, ZAKIR HUSSAIN, EDGAR MEYER
Last night I witnessed one of the most amazing musical performances of my life.
Bela Fleck (banjo), Zakir Hussain (tablas) and Edgar Meyer (double bass) performed at the 1,100 seat Cullen Theater in Houston’s Wortham Center. Because I convinced myself I deserved it, I bought a front row seat in the orchestra pit for this one. Actually, at just over $5.50 for each of the eighteen Grammy Awards represented on that stage last night, it was a bargain.
I was unfamiliar with Zakir Hussain before last night. A quick check let me know that he played on George Harrison’s “Living in the Material World” and has collaborated with John McLaughlin and Mickey Hart. I was also mostly unfamiliar with his instrument – the tabla – but after seeing him play up close I can tell you that it involves some incredible use of the fingers and palms.
Being a longtime fan of bluegrass and acoustic music I was very familiar with Bela and Edgar. Nothing really prepared me for what I saw and heard last night though.
I have heard and even agreed with the notion that Bela Fleck is the most talented banjo player in the world. I now wonder how anyone else gets mentioned in the same breath! I fell into a trance several times just watching and listening to the things he can do on the banjo.
Like Bela and Zakir, Edgar Meyer is a master of his instrument. There were times that I could close my eyes and imagine he was playing a cello until I remembered this thing was just too large.
I don’t know enough about music to do a proper review of this show. What they were playing was just too complex for my ears. I was close enough though to pick up on some of their secrets to playing so technically perfect – they maintained almost constant eye contact with each other and used tiny bits of body language to accomplish the task of playing music as well as it can possibly be played.
Oh, and it was also obvious how much each of them absolutely loves what they do. Highly recommended to anyone who gets the chance to see this amazing trio.