With her earthy sophistication of a postmodern, old-time singer-songwriter, and his virtuosic, jazz-to-classical ingenuity fused with bluegrass roots— the music of Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn is a different matter entirely. There’s no denying that theirs is a one-of-a-kind pairing, with one-of-a-kind possibilities. Fleck and Washburn have collaborated in the past, most notably in their Sparrow Quartet, with Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee. Until last fall, though, any performances they gave as a two-piece were decidedly informal: a pickin’ party here, a benefit show at Washburn’s grandmother’s Unitarian church there. It was inevitable and eagerly anticipated by fans of tradition-tweaking acoustic fare that these partners in music and life (who married in 2009) would eventually do a full-fledged project together.
Now that Fleck, a fifteen-time GRAMMY winner, has devoted time away from his standard-setting ensemble Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to a staggeringly broad array of musical experiments, from writing a concerto for the Nashville Symphony to exploring the banjo’s African roots to playing in jazz duos with Chick Corea, while Washburn has drawn critical acclaim for her solo albums, done fascinating work in folk musical diplomacy in China, presented an original theatrical production, contributed to singular side groups Uncle Earl and The Wu-Force and become quite a live draw in her own right, the two of them decided they were ready to craft their debut album as a duo, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn (releasing October 7 on Rounder Records).
Given their new duo adventure and the recent birth of their son Juno, Washburn and Fleck playfully embrace the notion that they’ve become a family band. And at home, on stage or on record, it’s their deep bond, on top of the way their distinct musical personalities and banjo styles interact, that makes theirs a picking partnership unlike any other on the planet.
Their Saturday, November 8, show in the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will feature new tracks from the album as well as individual favorites that span each musician’s history.
Tickets are $25.00, $35.00, and $45.00 plus applicable service fees, and are available at http://www.cmatheater.com and by phone at (615) 416-2001 beginning Friday, September 12 at 10:00 a.m. CST.