Bela Fleck On Collaboration

August 23, 2006

I can’t make believe I’m an African musician when I play with Zakir Hussain, but I can soak up a phrase, and then improvise back. It’s best to begin with a simple interaction. In Africa, they may teach you a folk song. Start to embroider it, and then you’re suddenly on another level. To approach jazz, you might start by embellishing a blues progression. It’s rewarding to look outside of what you normally do, because you’ll grow very quickly by comparison, and it’s exciting to play something for the first time. On the other hand, the Flecktones is a unique collaboration that has lasted 18 years, and I value getting to our next phase of evolution as much as playing with someone new.”

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