Music for Two
In an interview for Barnes & Noble.com, banjoist Béla Fleck said that he and bassist Edgar Meyer intend to build a repertoire for their unusual combination of instruments that they can continue to develop for the rest of their lives. Well, they're off to a great start on Music for Two, recorded live in venues across the U.S. during a series of concert tours. Both artists are comfortable playing in a variety of styles, and they offer a wide spectrum of music: from Baroque-era classical selections (with an emphasis on Bach) to Fleck's jazz-influenced compositions and Meyer's bluegrass-flavored concoctions. Yet somehow, despite the lack of stylistic barriers, Music for Two hangs together astonishingly well. Even Miles Davis's "Solar" fits right in. How do they do it? Insight is provided by way of a bonus DVD featuring the documentary Obstinato: Making Music for Two by Fleck's brother Sascha Paladino. Tension rises as the two grapple with Meyer's tricky Canon, trying to get a decent take before the tour ends and the tape stops rolling. If you had romantic notions about a musician's life on the road, this short film plainly shows just how grueling it actually is. Watch the DVD and you'll hear the music differently. Though they have been friends for some 20 years and have recorded together before -- Fleck made a guest appearance on Meyer's Uncommon Ritual and Meyer returned the favor on Fleck's Perpetual Motion -- this was their first intensive, large-scale collaboration. All together, it's is a musical/cinematic experience not to be missed.