Well-known classical bassist and innovative creative genius Edgar Meyer took the stage Saturday night at UCSB’s Campbell Hall, as presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures. The renowned composer and performer was joined by Bela Fleck on banjo, Zakir Hussain on tabla, and Rakesh Chaurasia on bansuri, compiling a quartet of unparalleled musicians.
Fleck and Meyer played together for the first time in Aspen, Colorado, busking together in the early stages of their careers. The two soon heard of Zakir Hussain, and following Fleck’s meeting him at a festival workshop, composed a concerto proposed by the Nashville Symphony. They entitled the concerto “The Melody of Rhythm,” and worked alongside Hussain on the piece. Joined onstage this weekend by Rakesh Chaurasia, the trio thrives as a modern meshing of rhythm, harmony, and melody, creating stimulating and captivating music.
The group’s dialogue extends beyond music and into their interactions with one another and with the audience, as they banter back and forth onstage in between pieces. At one brief intermission, Meyer recited a joke that he had attempted during a rehearsal and failed miserably to deliver, accidentally divulging the punch line before the actual joke was presented. All four musicians onstage roared with laughter, communicating the authenticity of their collaboration and friendship.
The caliber of Edgar Meyer’s talent is unmatched, and to see the bassist live is an astounding experience. His passion for music overflows, a contagious phenomenon which urges the audience to connect with the music.
Hussain’s raw rhythmic intuition is enamoring: his music is oxygen for the deprived lungs; once heard, there is no return to the air as it existed before. Unsurprisingly, he is renowned worldwide, known for his innovation in the musical realm and the contributions he’s made both in composition and performance.
Some of the pieces of Saturday night’s performance included one entitled “Bubbles,” (due to the imitation of sound), another called “Long Ago” (composed by Meyer 38 years ago, which is his reasoning behind the namesake), and the concluding piece, “Making Music” (an exploration of sound and harmony through various instruments). “Making Music” also included a lengthy percussion solo which encapsulated the audience completely, causing listeners to hang on to each percussive beat. Each piece performed was composed by at least one musician on stage, and often by more than one, in collaboration with one another.
Tickets for the show were hard to come by, if not seized immediately, and the sponsorship from Westmont in the Arts is greatly appreciated amongst both students and staff for the opportunity provided to attend this particular show. Westmont in the Arts additionally collaborates with sponsors and businesses in the local community to provide more opportunities such as this, encouraging the appreciation for and love of music and art.