Meyer were tasked by the orchestra to compose a triple concerto for banjo and bass plus one, with the tantalizing stipulation that they could choose whomever they liked as the third member. One name topped both of their wish lists: Zakir Hussain. “Edgar and I are big fans of Zakir’s, and we were able to offer him this big commission to write a piece with us,” Fleck enthused during a tour stop in Portland, Oregon. “In the process, we became good friends, and it’s just a wonderful experience. The banjo and the tabla have had an appointment to get together, because they’re a natural fit. They both roll fast patterns, and I can learn so much from [Hussain]. I think it’s going to invigorate my playing.” “Zakir has made a lifetime reach toward the West in terms of learning Western music,” Meyer said of the tabla virtuoso, who has worked with George Harrison, John McLaughlin, Charles Lloyd and the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart. “So if we never learned a note of what he’s doing, he’ll come all the way to us, if that’s what’s needed. I mean, we don’t want that; we want to learn as much as we can from him, but he does make it easy.” That ease of communication, not to mention the musicians’ sheer joy of playing with one another, permeates The Melody of Rhythm, which has topped the Billboard Classical Music Chart. Comprising performances by the trio, and the trio in the company of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin, the recording seamlessly blends classical, jazz, world and folk traditions. Individual compositions were contributed by Fleck, Meyer and Hussain, and all three collaborated on the three-part title suite. Fleck’s quicksilver picking runs like a clear mountain stream throughout, often revealing his bluegrass roots, but other times traveling to exotic Eastern ports of call. Steeped in both classical music and Americana, Meyer adds a rich sonority to the proceedings, particularly when he pulls bow across strings. And Hussain’s playing simply defies the laws of physics, his fingertips flying across the signature black-dot drum heads of his tablas with crisp articulation and endless melodic ideas. The Melody of Rhythm title certainly seems apt. “It was an afterthought,” Meyer said of the album name, jazziz november 2009 33