The Jazzcat

Regina Carter at the Smothers Theater in Malibu at Pepperdine CollegeRegina Carter at the Smothers Theater in Malibu at Pepperdine College

by on Dec.14, 2009, under News



I have been so enamored with strings for such a long time

and it is always a pleasure to encounter individuals who perform at the peak of

their craft. Just a few short weeks ago I was on stage hosting at the Monterey

Jazz Festival with the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars and on violin, the

wonderful Regina Carter!



Tonight she is back to her usual position as a leader and

she brings together an eclectic array of sound and splendor with some wonderful

worldly colors for our musical pallet. Accordion and kora along with bass and

drums are such beautiful compliments to the violin. Sounds and cultures coming

together and uniting in universal language bringing us one-step closer to the

global human experience.



Classical, European and the African Diaspora is just genius

in terms of sound articulation and combined with the rhythms of jazz, the world

should take note not only of the music but also its implications. I love when

musicians smile at each other during a performance. This suggests that the

musicians hear and feel each other beyond the sound of the music and that

impeccability is streaming in consciousness!



Alvester Garnett is situated behind his drum kit approaching

the situation skin to skin. The use of his palms and fingertips open up the

doors where new connections with other rhythmic pallets exist allowing

authentic and natural backdrops for stories of music to be told. Stories indeed

is what you will hear when the new album, “Reverse Thread” will be released in

January of 2010. Sounds like a distant fantasy but as winter closely is upon

us, we will be indulging the day sooner than you think.



Regina opens up with the title track of the disc, a piece

called “Interi” and a composition entitled, “Kano”; which is the story about a

man that would gladly turn himself into diamonds or gold for the woman that he

loves only to know that this miracle still would not bring him closer to his




The kora is simply an amazing instrument and I do not use

that adjective lightly. The sound is a vast and marvelous array of speed and

versatility amassing the emotions and spirits of other worlds.  With the rhythm of superior strength as

its core, Regina’s strings skip, sing and dance so lovely on top of fragrant

frequencies. The audience chimes in on the syncopated mantra and they begin to

clap in unison as part of the fuel for the composition.



Accordion is not commonly used as an instrument for jazz but

as the world progresses, and walls of genres are crumbling by the intension of

creative thinking, nostalgia takes a back seat to inspiring new creations and

the prisms of brilliance shine in many delightful directions!  The elements of silence, a bow and a

string are so poignantly powerful and Regina’s respect for tradition and honor

to the freedom of the future of the music, fill the air with elements of

happiness and joy!



As kora player Yacouba Sissoko exits the stage transforming

the ensemble into quartet form, Will Holshouser plugs in an ipod next to his

accordion and the sound of a woman’s voice sets the tone for “Black Bottom

Dance” as her African dialect leads the group into song. There are so many

uplifting and pleasing little nuances of sound as each member uses their

instrument to create unusual tones that stretch beyond. Regina’s use of

vocalese and strings vibrates on a lovely bed of resonating splendor.


The second set begins with a duet of violin and accordion

that make love out of Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion”. This is the second time in

two days that I have heard love and respect spoken in such high regard to Astor

Piazzolla’s name and his alternative interpretations of tango music. This

should be a clue to those who are not hip to get hit in your soul from the

source of inspired beauty. Knowledge and its origins is King!


Back to the ipod as the sounds of an African field recording

where the men played the accordion and the women were allowed to chant and

clap. Thank God there are no restrictions placed on our brilliant women today

or we would be left with blowing each other up as apposed to having the subtlety of love desensitize our barbarous nature.


Which brings me to thoughts of one of the most beautiful

pieces in the performance. “The Beetle” from the film, “The Constant Gardner”

was so wonderful I had to rush to the video store to see the film again and

hear the music with a newly heightened experience.



Regina’s intensions for beautiful music for the world of

multiple genres are fulfilled. Stretching out into the galaxy and deep into

your soul connecting music, mind, experience, thought, love and culture making

one world one!


LeRoy Downs





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