Béla Fleck, the world's preeminent banjo player, and Edmar Castañeda, a peerless master of the Colombian harp, share more than a penchant to pluck magic out of strings. Both musicians are keen listeners with lightning reflexes and the ability to pounce on any digression. They're both alchemists of style, unbound by the rules of genre. And each has a way of making virtuosity feel generous, disarming any look-at-me heroics with a spirit of welcome.
They had never played together before this performance at the 2019 Big Ears Festival. The concert, at Saint John's Cathedral in Knoxville, Tenn., features an equal portion of compositions by Fleck and Castañeda, as well as a flamenco-charged classic by Brazilian composer Jacob do Bandolim. The notes rain in cascades, or flow like rivulets, but always in service of bright communion.