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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » March 31, 2011
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Meet the Queen of Jazz Violin
March 31, 2011   
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American violinist Regina Carter, regarded by many as the world’s most outstanding jazz violinist, will give a single concert in Poland April 14 at the invitation of the Era Jazzu music agency.

Carter began her adventure with music at the tender age of two. She started playing the violin when she was four. Her virtuosity attracted the attention of the Verve Records company. She started to work with the company in 1998. She recorded her most famous album, Paganini: After a Dream, playing on Il Cannone Guarneri del Gesu, a famous antique violin which once belonged to classical music virtuoso Niccolo Paganini. She was the first jazz musician to play on the instrument. The album, which features jazz interpretations of Paganini’s compositions, enthralled both the jazz and classical music world. A reviewer for Time Magazine wrote: “Carter creates music that is wonderfully listenable, probingly intelligent and, at times, breathtakingly daring… taking the listener into the future of jazz.”

The musician says she has a mission—she wants to make her contribution to music on her own terms. Carter escapes the commercial aspects of music, unknowingly becoming an icon of what is the most important in great art: a nonconformist with an outstanding talent and ambition. During her concerts, one has the impression that Carter and her group know the goal of their mission. With their inexhaustible energy, they win over audiences across the world.

Born in Detroit to a preschool teacher and a Ford company worker, Carter grew up in the atmosphere of the American middle class of the 1960s where classical music education was in fashion. She started playing the piano at the age of two. At the age of 12, she was the youngest musician in the famous Detroit Civic Symphony Orchestra.

Her encounter with jazz took place much later. On her 16th birthday, Carter went to a concert of Stephane Grappelli, a prominent violinist from France who had played for many years with guitarist Django Reinhardt, a partnership that made both of them world-famous jazz legends. Carter says the concert made her understand what she wanted to play and how much joy and freedom improvised music could offer. She studied music at the New England Conservatory of Music and Michigan’s Oakland University. She performed for some time with Straight Ahead, a popular women’s quartet, with whom she recorded two albums for Atlantic Records.

A turning point in her career was 1998 when she was offered a contract from the famous Verve Records company. The albums Rhythms of the Heart of 1999 and Motor City Moments of 2000 revealed her talent to an awestruck jazz community. Her album Freefall recorded with pianist Kenny Barron was nominated for the Grammy Awards in 2002. Since that time she has been invited to take part in projects by eminent musicians—she appeared on Cassandra Wilson’s album Travelling Miles, made recordings and gave concerts with hip-hop soul star Mary J. Blige and took part in avant-garde projects by John Blake.

It was not until 2006 that Carter recorded her next album. I’ll be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey is a tribute to Carter’s mother Grace Louise Carter. It comprises intimate acoustic arrangements of compositions from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. In search of the atmosphere of those years, Carter invited prominent singers Dee Dee Bridgewater and Carla Cook, clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and accordionist Gil Goldstein to work on the project. The album heralded a turning point in Carter’s music. Her recordings increasingly show inspirations drawn from classical music, swing, new black music, southern U.S. folk, rhythm and blues and even ethno music. Her latest album, Reverse Thread, is made up of jazz interpretations of ethnic and folk ballads played with verve and passion. Carter recorded the album in conjunction with Yacouba Sissoko, a virtuoso player of the kora, the West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers; accordionists Gary Versace and Will Holshouser of the David Krakauer band; bassist Mamadou Ba; guitarist Adam Rogers; and drummer and percussionist Alvester Garnett. Reverse Thread had its premiere in the United States in the summer of 2010. The album received positive reviews and a nomination for the Grammy Awards.

Carter will appear with her new program at only two concerts in Europe this spring.

Regina Carter, Klub Palladium, 7/9 Złota St., April 14, 8 p.m.
Tickets: www.ticketpro.pl, www.ebilet.pl, www.eventim.pl
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