Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain & Rakesh Chaurasia Unite For New Album ‘As We Speak’ + US Tour
Stream “Owl’s Misfortune” from the upcoming collaborative album.
By Scott Bernstein Mar 3, 2023 • 8:35 am PST
Longtime collaborators banjoist Béla Fleck, bassist Edgar Meyer and tabla master Zakir Hussain teamed with Indian flautist Rakesh Chaurasia to prep As We Speak, a new studio album due out via Thirty Tigers on May 12. The quartet, who will embark on a three-week U.S. tour this spring in support of the project, previewed the 12-song collection by releasing lead single “Owl’s Misfortune.”
Fleck and Meyer first worked with Hussain in 2006 to compose Triple Concerto For Banjo, Bass And Tabla for a performance with the Nashville Symphony commemorating the opening of Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The trio recorded the material with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the Grammy-nominated 2009 LP The Melody Of Rhythm.
The three musicians crossed paths with Rakesh Chaurasia while touring India in support of The Melody Of Rhythm. Rakesh Chaurasia, the nephew of Indian flute legend and Hussain confidante Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, plays a type of Indian bamboo flute called the bansuri. After Rakesh sat in with the trio, they knew they had a special chemistry.
“I think we wanted to see if we could do something a little more organic with just a small group,” explained Meyer of the decision to record with Rakesh Chaurasia. “And to have somebody who plays as beautifully as Rakesh join us really opened it up to a more lyrical and melodic situation.”
As We Speak “not only showcases the group’s breathtaking abilities as instrumentalists but underscores the wide range of influences at their command,” noted press materials heralding the album’s upcoming release. “Across a dozen songs, the quartet glides easily between the cerebral complexity of Indian rhythm and the gut-level groove of a funky bass line, sounding equally at home with the rigors of raga.”
Fleck, Meyer, Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasia start their spring tour at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on April 19. Additional April concerts follow in Atlanta, Germantown (Tennessee), Boone (North Carolina), North Bethesda (Maryland), Charleston (South Carolina), Danville (Kentucky), Cutler Bay (Florida) and Charlotte.
The quartet then plays Munhall, Pennsylvania on May 2 and Norfolk, Virginia on May 3. A trip to the Northeast spanning May 4 – 7 featuring stops in New York City, Troy (New York), Boston and Waterville (Maine) concludes the excursion. Details of a November U.S. tour will follow.
Check out a full list of Béla Fleck tour dates, including the shows with his As We Speak collaborators, by scrolling below followed with “Owl’s Misfortune” audio.
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Béla Fleck penned “Owl’s Misfortune,” the first taste of As We Speak.
“‘Owl’s Misfortune was written intentionally to echo the different worlds we all come from,” said Fleck. “I imagined creating a world where classical language could live alongside Indian musical rhythmic ideas—and since I wrote it, bluegrass lives there too. Parents of young kids will recognize the top secret title reference.”
Stream Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussain featuring Rakesh Chaurasia’s “Owl’s Misfortune” below: