INTERVIEW: Edgar Meyer, Bassist Extraordinaire

Edgar Meyer (right) with Bela Fleck
Edgar Meyer (right) with Bela Fleck

It’s not that bassist Edgar Meyer breaks down boundaries between musical genres. It’s more like he just doesn’t even know that those boundaries exist.

He’s recorded with Yo-Yo Ma, Garth Brooks, Wynton Marsalis, Elton John, Steve Earle, Joshua Bell, the New Grass Revival and James Taylor. To name just a few.

Last year, Meyer released an album of duets with mandolin phenom Chris Thile. This year, he worked with Bela Fleck and Zakir Hussain to compose and perform “The Melody of Rhythm: Triple Concerto & Music for Trio,” which they recorded with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Meyer, Fleck and Hussain (minus the Detroit Symphony) are making a tourstop at The Egg in Albany on Saturday night, and recently Meyer took some time out to chat with about making music:

Q: You’ve worked with Bela Fleck on a number of projects, how is this one different?
A: This one is different for two reasons. Bela and I have been though a lot both separately and together, and we are different individually and collectively as a result. More importantly, Zakir is a musician who profoundly changes anything he is a part of.

Q: Has Indian classical music been a part of your listening palette throughout your lifetime?
A: I have always listened to and admired Indian classical music, although I have never studied it and don’t know as much about it as I should.

Q: As a player of a non-fretted instrument, what does Indian music (or at least performing with an Indian musician) ask or allow you to do that you might not do in a straight string band or Western classical setting?
A: In playing with Zakir and Bela, there are no demands to do anything that is not germane to who I already am. Of course, it is an unbelievable opportunity to explore new territory and expand previous areas of inquiry, but the majority of situations that I have been a part of in recent years have tended to be very open.

Q: Do all the drummer jokes apply to tabla players, too?
A: Zakir tends to inspire more awe than humour.

Q: What have you learned from playing together as a trio?
A: I have learned that I have much more to learn than I had previously imagined, and that I need to try to learn it quickly.

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