Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Regina Carter: Reverse Thread

Jim Fusilli reviews Regina Carter's Reverse Thread and interviews the jazz violinist.
On "Reverse Thread," her seventh album as a leader, the 43-year-old Ms. Carter reinterprets traditional and contemporary folk music from Kenya, Mali, Uganda and other African nations; the impact of the continent's music on the Western canon is represented by Papo Vázquez's "Un Aguinald Pa Regina" and "Day Dreaming on the Niger," a song co-written by Ms. Carter and Reginald Washington that first appeared on her 1997 album "Something for Grace." While celebrating composers such as Mariam Doumbia, Habib Koité, Bassekou Kouyate, Ayub Ogada and James Achieng, and Boubacar Traoré on the album, Ms. Carter allows their compositions to hold true to form while she plays with characteristic warmth, intelligence and joy. Jazz is present, but her band's instrumental lineup here-on most tracks, it's a rhythm section of guitar, bass and percussion percolating under Ms. Carter's violin, an accordion and the 21-string harp-like West African kora-allows a seamless blend of varied styles to create something fresh and pleasing. Ms. Carter does much more than replace the singer's voice with the sound of the violin. On gorgeous readings of "N'Teri" by Mr. Koité and the festive "Zeripky," a tune with its roots in Madagascar, she brings us deep into the songs' emotional core.
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