Bela Fleck has played in more musical configurations than he has fingers to play his banjo. But multi-genre virtuoso says that working as a duo with pianist Chick Corea is always a highlight.
After touring to support their 2007 album "The Enchantment," Fleck notes that he and Corea "went on to the other things we had scheduled for ourselves," and it wasn't until "somebody made a real nice offer" for them to do a show last year that they rekindled their collaboration. "We did that show, and all of a sudden we're like, 'This is really fun? Why aren't we doing this?,' " Fleck, 55,, says. "It kind of slipped of our radar because we got so busy doing the other stuff we do.
"I think duos get better the longer you do them. There's an initial excitement to playing with somebody new, but after you play together for along time you start to understand how to help each other sound good, what the other person desires behind them, what freedom you have in the duo format. Plus I have so much to learn from (Corea); he's one of the greatest who's ever played in jazz and improvised music. So as much as he wants to do it, I'm in."
Fleck has plenty of other endeavors on his plate, of course. He released a new concerto, "The Imposter," last year and has composed another piece for banjo and string quartet. His Flecktones are on an "extended hiatus" for the time being, but Fleck and his wife, fellow musician and songwriter Abigail Washburn, are working on an album they hope to release this fall.
"There's more traditional stuff on it than we were expecting," Fleck says of the latter. "We found all these funky folk tunes and made two-banjo arrangements of them. So there's a good combination of originals and traditional stuff -- all good music and all a lot of fun to play."
Bela Fleck and Chick Corea perform at 8 p.m. Thursday at SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $35-$48. Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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