Now, for something completely apolitical.
First saw them perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September, and had to catch them again.
It is an unexpected blend of a 74-year-old jazz pianist, Corea, and a 57-year-old bluegrass banjo player, Fleck. Corea is known for his strange innovations. Some have been a bit too strange for my tastes, but this duet works surprisingly well.
The stage is empty except for a huge piano and its tennis shoe-wearing diminutive player and stooped-over, mop-haired banjo player. Some tunes are duels — though out-gunned 88 keys to four strings, Fleck holds his own. Some tunes are so well blended that if you close your eyes you can’t always tell which notes are coming from the piano and which from the banjo.
They play each other’s compositions, as well as the classics of more than one variety.
After playing one classical tune, Corea asks the audience to name the composer, and one astute listener correctly shouts out Scarlatti, a 17th century composer of more than 500 sonatas.
After playing one of Corea’s tunes, “Continuance,” which was not exactly written for the banjo, Fleck announces that he gets his revenge by polling the bluegrass community, who chose for the duet Bill Monroe’s bluegrass classic “Jerusalem Ridge.”
Here is a sampling from their second album: