Béla Fleck • Marcus Roberts Trio Across the Imaginary Divide

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COMPOSERS: Béla Fleck • Marcus Roberts Trio
LABELS: Rounder
ALBUM TITLE: Across The Imaginary Divide
WORKS: Across The imaginary Divide
PERFORMER: Béla fleck (banjo), Marcus Roberts (piano), Rodney Jordan (bass), Jason Marsalis (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 1166191422

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Originating from a jam session after a Deep South music festival (run by Marcus Roberts), the pairing of banjo legend Béla Fleck with Roberts’s Trio has produced this disc of fiery bluegrass-singed jazz. Roberts, the blind pianist who made his name with Wynton Marsalis, rises to the challenge with his long-established trio, including Wynton’s brother Jason on drums. And world-ranking banjoist Fleck – who has continually reinvented the scope of his instrument – again proves his intuitive flair, as he duels with Roberts on tracks such as the co-written ‘Petunia’. Arrestingly, in ‘One Blue Truth’ it’s the turn of Jordan’s bass to take a solo role.

The ‘imaginary divide’ of the title harks back to the blues roots of jazz and its offshoots. And this is a joyous coming together, as – with gospel, blues, and bop interludes – the trio and banjoist take turns to outrun and complement each other.

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Neil McKim