Thursday, March 18, 1993
By David Royko
Bela Fleck And Tony Trischka: Solo Banjo Works (Rounder) ****
This recording is a milestone that will, in time, be viewed as an historic release. Trischka and Fleck are the two players most responsible for breaking the banjo out of traditional bluegrass, demonstrating that those five strings could produce music of a vast stylistic and emotional range. Here they do it all by themselves, each taking half of this seventy minute CD to lay bare their musical personalities, without the safety net of other musicians. The pair of exploratory selections recorded live by the two together makes one hope that Rounder may someday issue an entire disc of similar duets. The solo material includes many original compositions and improvisations, medleys of music of the Middle East and the Beatles, a very early recording of Fleck made by a former teacher, some Bach, and yes, even a dash of bluegrass. For years, Fleck and Trischka have been inching the banjo closer to acceptance as a universal instrument. This unique disc should move it ahead by at least a few feet, if not miles.
David Duckman [David Royko]