When long time Marcus Roberts fan and banjo virtuoso, Béla Fleck stayed late at a Savannah Music Festival jam session just to hear Roberts play, the last thing he expected was to be up on stage performing with him and his band but “it seemed to work instantly. Marcus seemed to really like it. And the 20 or so people at the jam session seemed to think that something very special had just occurred.”
A year later they had agreed to perform together for the first time at the same festival in Savannah.
We threw together a set of music, and played it for a packed and intrigued crowd. The gig was honestly amazing. There was a natural rapport between Marcus and me from the first note, and Jason Marsalis (on drums) and Rodney Jordan (on bass) were just incredible. I loved their trio conception, and was thrilled to be able to find a way to exist within it – Béla Fleck.
It was a lot of fun working with Béla on this project. He has a limitless imagination and, like our trio, he is willing to do whatever it takes to make a great record. The recording brings our two styles together in a way that I think will be really enjoyable for the listeners – Marcus Roberts.
The Marcus Roberts Trio is known for its virtuosic style – a style that is strongly rhythmic, melodic, and filled with dynamic contrast. The group was founded in 1995, and they are known around the world for their signature trio style. Béla Fleck is often considered the premier banjo player in the world. He has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo through a remarkable performing and recording career that has taken him all over the musical map and on a range of solo projects and collaborations.
Across The Imaginary Divide, out 5th June on Rounder, was produced by Béla Fleck and Marcus Roberts.
1. Some Roads Lead Home
2. I’m Gonna Tell You This Story One More Time
3. Across the Imaginary Divide
4. Let Me Show You What to Do
7. One Blue Truth
8. Let’s Go
10. The Sunshine And The Moonlight
11. That Old Thing
12. That Ragtime Feeling
Marcus Roberts grew up in Jacksonville, Florida where his mother’s gospel singing and the music of the local church left a lasting impact on his own musical style. After losing his sight at age five, he began teaching himself to play piano a few years later. He had his first formal lessons at age twelve. Roberts studied classical piano at Florida State University with Leonidus Lipovetsky. While at Florida State, Roberts won the first of many competitions and awards garnered over the years. At age 21, he began touring with Wynton Marsalis and stayed for over six years.
Béla Fleck is often considered the premier banjo player in the world. A New York City native, he picked up the banjo at age 15 after being awed by the bluegrass music of Flatt & Scruggs. While still in high school he began experimenting with playing bebop jazz on his banjo, mentored by fellow banjo renegade Tony Trischka. In 1980, he released his first solo album, Crossing the Tracks, with material that ranged from straight ahead bluegrass to Chick Corea’s Spain. In 1982, Fleck joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, making a name for himself on countless solo and ensemble projects ever since as a virtuoso instrumentalist. In 1989 he formed the genre-busting Flecktones, with members equally talented and adventurous as himself.