Continuing their “Across The Imaginary Divide” tour, Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Bijou Theatre.
Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio bring four music virtuosos to the stage. Fleck is widely known as one of, if not, the most critically acclaimed banjo players in the world. With over a dozen Grammy awards for various genres, yet still using the same instrument, it’s easy to see why he’s viewed as such.
Elaina Spiekermann, chair of the Cultural Attractions Committee and a senior in logistics, said that attendants can expect a boatload of talent.
“Béla Fleck has won 13 Grammys and has been nominated for more Grammys than anyone else in the world,” Spiekermann said.
Robert Preston Warfield, a freshman in biochemistry, plays multiple instruments and recognizes Fleck's talent. Warfield said he plans to attend the show.
“He’s extremely good at what he does," Warfield said. "Not many people can do what he does on a banjo. I’ve never seen the Marcus Roberts Trio, but I’ve heard they’re a great show, too."
The Marcus Roberts Trio is led by Marcus Roberts on piano, Jason Marsalis on drums and Rodney Jordan on bass. They are, by definition, a jazz trio but where most jazz trios focus on the piano, the Marcus Roberts trio focuses on all three instruments.
“I think it’ll be an exciting show to see. I’ve never seen Béla Fleck live before, so it should be really interesting,” Tracy Hicks, freshman in anthropology, said.
Although Fleck and the Roberts Trio are certainly adept at classic jazz performances, the four are no strangers to larger ensembles. The band has performed with the Detroit Orchestra Symphony, along with Fleck, and collaborated to make quartets or octets for the Marcus Roberts Trio.
Spiekermann said that the styles of Fleck and the Roberts Trio will mesh well.
“Bela Fleck is very versatile," Spiekermann said. "He’s performed with Dave Matthews Band. He’s performed with Abigail Washburn. He’s performed with an African musical ensemble. He takes the banjo, what can be traditionally associated with a bluegrass genre, and really fits it to jazz, contemporary and folk music.”
Hicks said she is a fan of the banjo sound and is excited to see Fleck.
“I love Béla Fleck’s sound and vibe," Hicks said. "He modernizes the sound of the banjo but remains faithful to the old rustic sound.”
Spiekermann said the Cultural Attractions Committee is excited about bringing a diverse artist.
“Knoxville is often given the stereotype of being a very homogenous city," Spiekermann said. "As the Cultural Attractions Committee, we like to bring in artists that aren’t in the norm. We’ve always been very passionate about bringing in the fine arts, and Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio definitely fit that mold."
Students will be admitted free of charge with an early purchase from the Central Ticket Office and $5 at the door. Tickets will be $10 for faculty/staff, and $15 dollars for the general public. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Bijou Theatre at 803 S. Gay St. downtown.