Bela Fleck with his Deering Crossfire banjo

Béla Fleck

Béla Fleck is often considered the premier banjo player in the world. A New York City native, he picked up the banjo at age 15 after being awed by the bluegrass music of Flatt & Scruggs. While still in high school he began experimenting with playing bebop jazz on his banjo, mentored by fellow banjo renegade Tony Trischka. In 1980, he released his first solo album, Crossing the Tracks, with material that ranged from straight ahead bluegrass to Chick Corea’s “Spain.” In 1982, Fleck joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, making a name for himself on countless solo and ensemble projects ever since as a virtuoso instrumentalist. In 1989 he formed the genre-busting Flecktones, with members equally talented and adventurous as himself.

Over the past half-century, Béla Fleck has exploded the parameters of the banjo, taking his staggering musicality to inspired blends of bluegrass, fusion, folk, jazz, classical, global music and more. In the process he’s won 18 Grammy Awards and rightfully earned a reputation as one of our most brilliant instrumentalists.

And yet ... when Fleck speaks of his years-long collaboration with the late pianist Chick Corea, he can sound like a bashful student musician, still obviously in awe of the jazz titan whose impact transformed him as a teenager in the ’70s. “I just feel so lucky to have played with him in such an intimate way, and to have gotten to know him so well,” Fleck says. “It’s one of the greates


Deering Crossfire Electric Banjo
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