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Edgar Meyer/Béla Fleck/Mike Marshall: Uncommon Ritual

Meyer, Fleck and Marshall play a variety of acoustic string instruments and bring to this session backgrounds in a variety of musical genres. Reminiscent of the music on Claude Bolling’s Classical crossover albums in the ’70s or the modern strings of Kronos Quartet, Uncommon Ritual has wider appeal. Not quite classical, or exactly jazz or bluegrass, their original music succeeds by borrowing from these and other genres.

Having performed together since the early ’80s, Meyer and Fleck tighten the teamwork. Classical bassist Meyer has infiltrated bluegrass, country, and soloed on a Hank Jones recording. Bela Fleck, a Grammy-winning banjo master, has led his own groups (including the Flecktones). Mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall collaborated with Dave Grisman from 1979-1984, and with versatile string artists from Grappelli to Kronos Quartet.

Throughout the 17 captivating tunes, musical cues come from around the globe and from Bach to blues, featuring chipper, colorfully-layered trio renderings such as “Seesaw” and “Chromium Picolinate,” to Meyer’s solo performance on the third movement from “Amalgamations for Solo Bass,” to a decisively classical Marshall-Meyer duet, Pablo de Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen,” which, at eight-and-a-half minutes, serves as album centerpiece. From playful to serious, selections focus on individual artistry and collective wit and polish, with an easy give-and-take that makes this string trio the group for the new millennium.

Originally Published