Live review: Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, & Zakir Hussain with Rakesh Chaurasia at Ulster Performing Arts Center – Photos

Given that most of the old space heads who groove on these other forms of communication can’t see that well to drive at night anymore, it was a bigger crowd than most expected at the Ulster Performing Arts Center.

Renowned tabla player Zakir Hussain, banjo legend Béla Fleck, double bassist Edgar Meyer, and bansuri player Rakesh Chaurasia have formed a mesmerizing quartet whose music unfolds like a conversation. Today, the ensemble has announced a U.S. Fall Tour set to take place in November, following a successful run that concluded earlier this month in support of their collaborative album, As We Speak – which is now available worldwide through Thirty Tigers.

With all the misinformation out there, most of the attendees were probably not aware that As We Speak had won the 2024 Best Contemporary Album and Global Music Performance Grammys or that “Pashto, the eighth jewel of the album’s dozen gems, won Best Global Music Performance. They just wanted to feed their heads for a couple of hours.

Watch: Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasia Share  Transcendent Live Performance Video, Detail

Some things never change. But thankfully, banjoist Bela Fleck, double bassist Edgar Meyer who, on this stage, was also the quartet’s straight man; humble humanist and tabla master Zakir Hussain, and Indian flautist Rakesh Chaurasia tweak the vibe, making a music that no one else in this whole world-weary world create as they tap into a rich vein of magic.

Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer & Zakir Hussain featuring Rakesh Chaurasia — Béla  Fleck

Hewing rightly and adventurously to the enticing, enchanting interplay that highlights the whole of As We Speak, the quartet sailed through such mystical sonnets and Appalachian ragas as the shadowy “Owl’s Misfortune.” The Hindu scatting “Beast In the Garden” or the great finger-picking race over the hot desert sands that is “Pashto.” The brooding chimera “Hidden Lake” or the grandly expansive “The B Tune.”

Fleck, Meyer, and Hussain, who have played together in one iteration or another since 2009, are clearly in peak form and enjoying themselves immensely. Joking on how Meyer starts each song, they continued on their merry way. Hussain, who never seems to tire, has gathered a great youthful energy since Shakti’s fiftieth reunion tour of 2023. Meyer—who’s recent collaboration with Christian McBride But Who’s Gonna Play the Melody? (Mack Avenue Records, 2024) is a hoot of a listen—sets the emotional tone throughout. Fleck is Fleck is Fleck: ever exploring, ever revealing still more of the creative wanderlust that powers his being.

The moment Chaurasia brings his bansuri to his lips, he transports the whole self upon warm North Indian mists. Thus “Jbhai” rides those mists into an animated folk dance. “Rickety Karma” cuts like a coursing mountain stream, dipping here, curving there. ‘Twas a great show in a great space.

Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain, and Rakesh Chaurasia –  BardavonPresents

To celebrate their musical collaboration and the announcement of the new dates, the quartet has released a live performance video of the title track, “As We Speak,” composed by Hussain. Previously, they shared an animated video for Edgar Meyer’s composition, “Motion,” which drew praise for its haunting blend of banjo and bansuri melodies.

As We Speak showcases the extraordinary talents of these four instrumentalists and highlights the diverse range of influences they bring to their music. Across twelve tracks, they effortlessly traverse the intricate rhythms of Indian classical music and the infectious grooves of a funky bass line, seamlessly merging the rigor of raga with their collective musicality. Their live performance showcases their ability to pick those proverbial stars from the sky together at will.

Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, & Zakir Hussain with Rakesh Chaurasia at Ulster  Performing Arts Center article @ All About Jazz

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